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No. j. 






R. R. C. GREGORY 103432 

Head Master of the Eltham National School, People's Warden of Eltham Parish Church, 
Member of the Council of the Woolwich Antiquarian Society, Author (with H. B.M. Buchanan ) 
of '' Lessons on Country Life," and "Junior Country Readers," (Macmillan), Editor of 
"The Ludgate School Books," including "Story Readers," "Standard Author Readers," 

etc., etc. '- 

a? a 




By F. W. NUNN 

(Vice-President of the Greenwich and the Woolwich Antiquarian SocietiesJ, 






HE chapters which go to make up this book are the outcome of a number 
of simple addresses which the writer had prepared to interest the older children 
of his school in the history of their ancient village. 

It was suggested that these addresses might be re-written and amplified for 
the benefit of " children of older gro-wth," and thus came about their publication in 
>weekly instalments, in the local Press, for the space of twenty months. It is in 
response to a very general request from all sorts and conditions of readers, not only of 
Elthain, but of the neighbouring districts, that the chapters are now presented in 
book form. 

It has been the aim of the writer to tell simply and clearly the story of a 
jyillage that is brim full of historic interest, .to recount as vividly as may be the many 
romantic incidents that have been associated with it, and to recall from the depths 
of the past, the noble and distinguished personages, who, from time to time through 
the long centuries, have trod our Eltham fields and lanes, and helped to make our 
village story. 

Local historians do not always recognise sufficiently that each village, however 
small or remote, has played and is playing its part in the greater drama of national 
history. Nevertheless, it is the fact which makes the investigation of local history 
a matter of great importance in any scheme of historical study. The Church, the 
Manor, the Tithe Barn, the Parish Records, the Cross, the Field names, the Lanes, 
the Pound, and many another old-time relic, all have their tale to tell of the life and 
progress of the village community, and very often reveal the part which it has played 
in the nation's destinies. 

Eltham's r61e in this respect has been a notable one, so, as opportunities have 
arisen, the writer has taken advantage of them, to get glimpses, from the village 
stand-point, of passing national events, of the changes in manners and customs, and 
other circumstances which seemed to lend an interest to the narrative. 

The general plan of work is shown by the table of contents. The parish pos- 
sesses antiquities of a tangible character which date back to the earliest periods of 
history. These have been taken, as far as possible, in the order of their antiquity, 
and the story written round them. The Dover Road, the Common, the Manor, the 
Church, the Palace, and the many other landmarks are thus made to tell their own 
tale. This method of treatment seemed the most appropriate, not only from an 
educational point of view, but from that of the general interest of the casual reader. 

The self-imposed labour of research and writing which the book represents has 
occupied the leisure hours of upwards of four years. It has been a labour of love ; 
the result, however, would never have been obtained but for the kind help, encourage- 
ment, and advice, which have been so readily given by many old residents, and others, 
in Eltham and elsewhere, interested in the study of local history. 

Special thanks are due to Mr. F. W. Nunn, of Lee, a Vice-president of the 
Woolwich, and also the Greenwich, Antiquarian Society, not only for his personal 
assistance at the British Museum Library, but for his long and patient labours in the 
field of photography. With the exception of the plates that have been kindly and 
specially lent by Messrs. Macmillan and Co., for the purpose of this book, nearly 
all the photographs, whether from old prints and pictures, or originals, are the pro- 
duction of his camera, and represent the work of more than a year. 

Grateful thanks are also accorded to Dr. E. A. Baker, M.A., the Borough 
Librarian, and his Assistants at the Public Libraries of Eltham, Woolwich, and 
Plumstead, for their ready co-operation and advice in the use of the fine collection of 
Kentish records which the Borough possesses ; to Miss Lewin, who has herself 
kept records of Eltham for the latter portion of the nineteenth century, for 
much valuable information ; to Miss Bloxam, for many facts regarding 
the Palace; to Mrs. Dobell, for permission to photograph her copy of "Hortus 
Elthamensis," for the use of her copies of the Sherard Letters, and for other assist- 
ance; to Miss May, of Avery Hill Training College, for her kind help in construing 
the old French poem of Froissart referring to Eltham, and published now in English 
for the first time; to Miss Moore, who also has made studies of Eltham history, for 
kind criticism and assistance ; to Miss Edith Anderson, also an enthusiastic student 
of local history ; to Mr. W. H. Taffs, our Eltham numismatologist ; to Mr. T. W. 
Mills, the Treasurer of the Eltham Charities ; to Dr. J. Jeken, a fifty year's resident of 
Eltham; to Mr. C. H. Athill, F.S.A. ; to Mr. W. J. Mortis, who, for upwards of half-a- 
century, held public offices in the parish, and whose local knowledge of the period is 
unique; to the Rev. T. N. Rowsell, former Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, for per- 
mission to quote extensively from his history of the " Golf Club House " ; to the 
Rev. E. Rivers, Vicar of Eltham, for permission to photograph the Parish Registers J 
to Mr. R. Whittaker Smith, Mr. W. B. Hughes, and Mr. W. G. Thame, for much useful 
information ; to Mr. W. H. Browning, for so kindly undertaking the compilation of the 
index ; to Mr. Geo. Bishop (Pope Street) ; Mr. T. H. Bartlett (The Gordon), and Mr. 
D. Waters (Mottingham), for information respecting their respective Schools; to the 
Rev. H. A. Hall (Holy Trinity), Eev. Father MacGregor (S. Mary's Roman Catholic), 
Rev. E. J. Penford (Congregational), Rev. A. C. Chambers (Baptist, Westmount 
Road), Mr. G. W. E. Dowsett (Wesleyan), and Mr. Alfred Smith (Baptist, Balcaskie 
Road), for notes respecting their several Churches ; to Mr. F. J. Furnivall, LL.D., for 
special permission to use the plate of "Chaucer on Horseback"; and to many others 
who have so kindly placed their knowledge at the writer's disposal. 

Novembei; 1909 R.R.C.G. 























































(For the list of Old Prints, Sketches, Tail-pieces, etc., see last pages of index). 

1. Mr. R. R. C. Gregory. 

2. Mr. F. W. Nunn. 

3. Eltham Palace from the N.W. 

4. The Moat Bridge from the W. 

5. Eltham Palace from S.W. 

6. 1792. 

7. Banquetting Hall, West end. 

8. Moat Bridge from N.E. 

9. Banqueting Hall, East end. 

10. ,, ,, used as a Stable. 

11. Moat Bridge. 

12. Interior of Banqueting Hall, with Screen. 

13. Part of old wall, Eltham Palace. 

14. Exit from an Underground Passage to 


15. Wooden gable, Eltham Palace. 

16. North doorway to Hall. 

17. Eltham Court, showing the old gabled 


18. Moat House and Bridge. 

19. Eltham Palace from the South. 

20. The great Hall of Palace as seen from S.W. 

21. Palace from the South lawn, showing bay. 

22. A bit of old wall, Elthnm Palace, showing 


23. N.E. view of Eltham Palace, from the 

oldest known picture of Eltham Palace. 

24. My Lord Chancellor's Lodging. 

25. Wooden house, adjoining Chancellor's 


26. Continuation of dwellings attached to the 

Chancellor's Lodging. 

27. My Lord Chancellor's Lodgings. 

28. Langerton House. 

29. House near Tilt-yard Gate. 

30. Well-Hall, the front. 

31. Well-Hall, seen from the Paddock. 

32. The Moat, Well-Hall. 

33. Tudor Buildings at Well-Hall. 

34. The Tudor Farm Buildings, Well-Hall. 

35. A bit of the old Cottages, Well-Hall Road. 

36. Part of old Buildings, Well-Hall. 

37. The old Well-Hall Cottages. 

38. The Parish Church from the North 1870. 

39. Interior of Old Church. 

40. The old Vicarage as feen from what is 

now Sherard Road. 

41. View of Street leading to the Old Church. 

42. A Souvenir of the Shaw Brooke Jubilee. 

43. A Souvenir of the Shaw Brooke Jubilee 


44. First page of the Churchwarden's Account 


45. Page from Churchwarden's Accounts. 

46. Eltham Lodge, now the Golf Club House. 

47. Portion of the Original Lease granted by 

Queen Henrietta to Sir John Shaw. 

48. Staircase in the Golf Club House. 

49. An interior, Eltham Lodge, showing 


50. Oakhurst. 

51. Langerton House, seen from King's Gar- 


52. Queenscroft. 

53. King's Garden. 

54. Sherard House. 

55. ,, View from Garden. 

56. Merlewood. 

57. Cliefden. 

58. Eltham House. 

59. Ivy Court. 

60. Eagle House. 

61. Conduit House. 

62. Lemon Well. 

63. Southend House. 

64. Southend Hall. 

65. Roman Catholic School. 

66. Barn House. 

67. Park House. 

68. Severndroog Castle. 

69. The old barn, Park Farm. 

70. West Lodge and Gate, Avery Hill. 

71. Pippen Hall Farm. 
















The old Workhouse. 
The Philipott Almshouses. 
The King's Arms Inn. 
Sun-dial, Barn House. 
Sun-dial, Southend House. 
National Schools, Roper Street. 
S. Mary's Orphanage. 

Mausoleum of Family of Mr. Thomas 

The old Lock-up. 
The old Conduit, 

near Holy Trinity 

The road to Bexley, with Conduit Lodge. 

The gate and old Lodge at entrance to 

Eltham Park. 

The last run of the old Blackheath 'Bus. 
Black-boy Cottage. 
The Ivy Cottage. 
The Tilt-yard Gate. 
Ram Alley. 
The old Forge. 

Site of the London and South Western 

The old Toll-gate on the Lee Road. 

The Court Yard, showing the old Elm 


The Greyhound and other buildings. 
The old Rising Sun. 
The old Man of Kent Inn. 
The old Castle Hotel. 
Shooter's Hill Road 

The Iron Gateway (Todman's Nursery). 
King's Dene. 
Pound Place. 

The old buildings in the Court Yard. 
The Greyhound Inn and other buildings. 
The White Hart. 
Last of the old barn at Home Park. 

National Schools, girls in old English 
Costume, practising the Maypole Dance. 
The Porcupine Inn, Mottingham. 
The seat of Lady James. 
Eltham High Street. 
Home Farm. 
The old Woolwich Road. 
One Acre Allotments. 
A bit of Gravel-pit Lane. 

The old lane by the National Schools, now 

Archery Road. 
Pound Place. 
At Pole-Cat Inn. 
A bit of Bexley Road. 
Entrance to Gravel-pit Lane. 

118. The way to Eltham from Eltham Green. 

119. Eltham Green from Eltham end. 

120. A bit of Bridle Lane, Palace in the 


121. Bexley Road from White's Cross. 

122. Making hay-rick, Lyme Farm. 

123. Middle Park Meadows, from Bridle Lane. 

124. The National Infants' School. 

125. Black-boy Cottage, from a painting by Mr. 

Sharp, the old Schoolmaster. 

126. First page of the Admission Register of 

Eltham National School. 

127. A page of Hortus Elthamensis, showing 

drawing by DilenninB. 

128. Severndroog Castle. 

129. The old Church (1860). 

130. Tomb of John of Eltham, Westminster 


131. Old Fireplace in the King's Arms Inn. 

132. The Tomb of John of Eltham in West- 

minster Abbey, as it appeared in 1723. 

133. The Family of Sir Thomas More. 

134. Archbishop Warham. 

135. Cardinal Wolsey. 

136. Henry VII. 

137. Froissart presenting the " Book of Loves " 

to Richard II., at Eltham Palace. 

138. Erasmus. 

139. Van Dyke. 

140. The Earl of Essex. 

141. Sir John Shaw. 

142. Anne, first wife of Sir John Shaw, Bart. 

143. Bridget, second wife of Sir John Shaw, 


144. John Evelyn, the diarist. 

145. Bishop Home. 

146. Mr. Charles Caesar. 

147. Archdeacon Stubbs 

148. Sir William James. 

149. Rev. J. K. Shaw Brooke. 

150. Mr. R. J. Saunders. 

151. Mr. Richard Mills. 

152. Mr. Thomas Lewin. 

153. Mr. Thomas Jackson. 

154. Col. J. T. North 

155. Avery Hill. 

156. Mr. W. J. Mortis. 

157. Dr. David King. 

158. Mr. H. W. Dobell. 

159. Lord Rivers and his Greyhounds in Eltham 


160. Hermit, born and bred at Blenkiron's 

Stables, at Middle Park. 

161. Bill announcing Shaw Brooke's Jubilee. 

162. Mr. J. Haywood, Parish Beadle. 

No. 2. 

F. W. NUNN. 

O a 


i I 
















November, 1909. 

JULIUS C/ESAR (from a Copper Coin in the British Museum.) 



The dwellers in Eltham hardly need to be 
reminded that the place in which they live, at 
one time a quiet Kentish village, has a very 
interesting history. 

Every place, of course, has a history of some 
sort, more or less interesting, when traced back 
to the beginning. But Royal Eltham has seen so 
many stirring times, has had so many great and 
interesting people associated with it, and has so 
much of its history written down in old books, 
and scattered about here and there in national 
records, that we may quite truly say there are 
few villages in the whole of England which can 
reveal a more romantic story. Though we may 
find, however, a great deal told us about Eltham 
in these old and musty records, and in books that 
are very learned, or very expensive, or very rare, 
it is doubtful whether one in a hundred of our 
young people will care to hunt for the story in 
those quarters, because old tomes are usually 
go tiresome to read, and need much patience to 

So, it has been suggested that it would be a 
good thing to write the story of Eltham, right 
down from the earliest times, in such a way that 
even the children may read and comprehend ; and 
that it would be a particularly good thing to do 
so now, before the old village loses all its rustic 
features ; for, alas, its green fields are gradually 
disappearing, and its quaint buildings are being 
removed, one by one, to make way for modern 
needs. This, then, is the excuse for the follow- 
ing chapters. 

Now, it is quite likely, when you caught sight 
of the heading to this chapter, that you may 
have exclaimed, " Csesar, indeed ! Surely Csesar 
never came to Eltham ! " You are right. Ca;sar 
never came to Eltham, for when the Romans 
invaded the land, and subdued the Britons, 
Eltham had not come into existence. But it is 
very probable, nay, the probability is so great 
that we may regard it as a fact, that the great 
Julius himself, he who 

Brought many captives home to Rome, 
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill, 


passed with his victorious troops within the 
bounds of what afterwards became the parish of 

We will consider presently what grounds there 
are for such an assertion as this ; but, in the 
meantime, let us walk up the Well Hall-road, to 
the point where the great highway runs, right 
and left, past the Herbert Hospital, and over 
Shooter's-hill. Here we find ourselves face to 
face with something which the old Roman con- 
querors did for us, something that was so useful 
and so permanent that it has remained to this 
day, a memorial of their industry and skill. 
That something is the fine road itself, the Old 
Dover-road, which runs straight from London 
to the sea. For more than eighteen hundred 
years this old road has been a highway for 
traffic ! What a tale it might tell us if it could 
only relate the many great events of history with 
which it has been associated ! 

In the course of these chapters we shall have 
to consider some of those events the most im- 
portant of them. To tell the whole tale of the 
Old Dover-road would need a book all to itself. 
That is not our purpose. For the present, our 
attention is directed to Caesar and the Romans, 
and their associations with what is now Eltham. 

As you know quite well, there were two 
Roman invasions. First of all, Julius Caesar 
came, 55 years before Christ, and again in the 
following year. He then went away with his 
host of warriors, only stopping just long enough 
to make it quite plain to the Britons that it was 
little use to resist the Roman arms. From the 
time of Julius Caesar's departure the Britons 
were not again molested by the Romans until a 
hundred years had passed, and the great Caesar 
and all the host that came with him had long 
been dead. Then, 47 years after Christ, in the 
time of another Caesar, came other Roman 
legions, and they conquered the land and made 
the Britons Roman subjects. It was after this 
second invasion that the old road on which we 
stand was constructed according to the ideas 
of the Roman engineers. 

Let us have a look at it, and see what history 
we can make out of it. In the first place you 
will notice how straight it is. As far as you 
can see, right to the top of the hill in one direc- 
tion, and beyond the Brook Hospital in the other 

direction it is almost a straight line. Now, fol- 
low it here upon this map of Kent. From Lon- 
don all the way to Canterbury it is perfectly 
straight. At Canterbury it breaks off at an 
angle where it runs south-east to Dover. That 
portion, too, is quite straight. 

Now let us examine this large map which shews 
all the Roman roads of Britain in thick black 
lines. Notice the directness of them all. Straight- 
ness, directness, this seems to have been one of 
the objects of those old road makers. You will 
notice, too, that the road is called Watling- 
street. How it came by that name does not 
appear to be quite certain. " Watling " is not 
a Roman name, and it must have been applied 
long after the Roman times. One authority tells 
us that it is a mispronunciation of the Roman 
name " Vitellina Strata," which means " Street 
of Vitellius," who, at the time of its construc- 
tion, was the Emperor of Rome. But this inter- 
pretation seems rather far-fetched. Another 
writer says that it is derived from the " Wast- 
lings," but nobody seems to know who or what 
the " Waetlings " were, though it has been said 
that they were a " craft," possibly " basket 
makers," which is very likely. This we do 
know, however, that in Anglo-Saxon days it was 
called " Weetlinga Street " ; in the middle ages, 
it had become " Watling Strete," and it has 
come down to us as " Watling Street." 

Look at the length of it. Here is where it 
touches Eltham, you see. On it goes westward 
till it crosses the Thames a little above London. 
Then it strikes a north-westerly direction to St. 
Alban's, and on right through the midlands. At 
Gailey, which is a small village in Staffordshire, 
it branches off in two directions. The branch to 
the left crosses the Severn at Wroxeter, and then 
runs south. The right hand branch continues 
north-west from Gailey until it strikes Chester. 
It then takes a north-easterly course, passes Man- 
chester, and joins a continuation of Ermine- 
street at Aldborough. By a direct northerly 
course it thence intersects the Wall of Hadrian, 
winds through the Cheviots, crosses the Tweed 
just below Melrose, and eventually strikes the 
Wall of Antonine, at the head of the Firth of 

It is a great and noble road. Space it out by 
means of the compass and scale and you will find 


that it is nearly 500 miles in length. You must 
not think, however, that all the roads made by 
the Romans were perfectly new at the time of 
their construction. Very often old British track- 
ways already existed, and, when convenient, the 
Roman road-makers would make use of these, 
merely re-modelling them according to Roman 

Most of you remember how, a few years ago, 
the Woolwich Borough Council transformed the 
winding and rather narrow road from Eltham into 
the wide, straight, and up-to-date Well Hall-road. 

towards the sea the Cenimagni, from Cambridge, 
Suffolk, and Norfolk, the Ancalites, from Berks 
and Wilts, the Cassi from Herts. 

They passed this way, bands of grim and fear- 
less fighters chieftains, in rude chariots, painted 
blue, with scythes protruding from the axle 
trees, tended by horse and foot, some bearing 
blue-stained shields, some wearing plumed hel- 
mets, many with their bodies stained with woad, 
armed with pike, or dart, or broadsword, or with 
that terrible three-pronged spear, the trident 
all pressing onward to foregather on the coast, 


In a similar way, the Romans, when it suited 
their purpose, brought the old British track- 
ways " up-to-date," and this is what actually 
happened to the highway here. It is the opinion 
of antiquarians that, even before the first coming 
of Julius Csesar, a British road ran from London 
to Dover, upon the line of the present Old Dover- 
road. A knowledge of this fact makes the spot 
upon which we stand all the more interesting. 
When the news spread among the tribes that 
Csesar was coming, and that a vast fleet of 
Roman galleys was preparing to bring across 
from Gaul another host of warriors in greater 
numbers, and better prepared, than those who 
came a year before, it was along this primitive 
track that the Trinobantes, from Essex, hurried 

under the gallant Cassibelan, once more to dis- 
pute the landing of the invading host. 

You know the end of it. They were beaten. 

Many of the defeated Britons fled to the dense 
forests, many more retraced their steps along 
this old track way, hastening to get beyond the 
river before the Roman soldiers should overtake 
them. A few miles above London there was a 
spot where the river could be forded. It was 
towards this point that the trackway led, and 
thither hastened the retreating Britons, where 
they crossed the stream and, on the other side, 
fortified their position as best they could. Pre- 
sently came along the pursuing legions of Rome, 
led by the most famous of all Roman General* 


" immortal Cssar." It was a well disciplined 
army that marched past this point, every man 
armed with the most effective weapons that 
civilisation could then devise, and trained in the 
art of warfare by the experience of a hundred 
fights under the most successful leader Rome had 
ever known. 

The Britons stuck great pointed stakes in the 
river to prevent the Romans from crossing, and 
the spot was known as Cowey Stakes for many 

But it was of little avail. The Roman Eagle 
triumphed, and it must have been along this 

trackway that the victors passed once more. It 
was the return of a victorious army, bearing 
with them the trophies of war, and many a 
wretched British captive fated to be dragged 
through the streets of Rome, to grace the tiiumph 
of the conqueror. 

So, although we cannot definitely say that 
thus and thus the things occurred, taking all 
matters into consideration, there seems to be 
sufficient evidence to warrant the presumption 
that this part of Eltham parish came within 
Caesar's line of march. 




It is not from books only that we may read 
history. There are other means of obtaining 
information about the doings of our forefathers. 
The printer is a useful man, and by means of his 
art he is able to record, and to distribute broad- 
cast, the thoughts of men, wise and otherwise. 
But there have been occasions when a man with 
a pickaxe has revealed historical facts which all 
the books in the world had failed to recognise. 
If we walk about Eltham with our eyes open, 
our wits alert, and our thinking cap properly 
adjusted, we may perhaps pick up many a bit of 
history which has escaped the ken of other 
people. The works of Nature are an open book, 
and happy is he who knows how to read it. But 
the same may be said of those other works which 
are the result of man's art and industry. 

A few years ago some workmen were making 
a trench along Edgware-road for the purpose of 
putting down a telephone tube. In the course of 
digging the men who wielded the pick-axe and 
spade came upon the actual pavement of the 

Roman road, over which the pres-ent Edgware- 
road runs. It lay beneath some six to twelve 
inches of ordinary soil, which came below the 
wood paving and concrete of the present road. 
The Roman pavement " was found to consist 
of large black nodular flints, weighing from four 
to seven pounds each, on a bed of rammed red- 
dish-brown gravel of thickness varying according 
to the inequalities of the clay surface below." 
In T. Codrington's book, dealing with " Roman 
Roads in Britain," you will find the particulars 
of this interesting discovery, together with other 
information which the discovery revealed as to 
how the Roman road-makers did their work. 
From this, too, we may deduce some knowledge 
of the construction of the part of Watling-street 
upon which we now stand. 

We may safely say that it was paved, because 
it was the general custom of the Romans to pave 
the roads. Sometimes, too, the roads lay along 
embankments which were thrown up and pre- 
pared by great labour. Such embankments are 


still to be seen in some parts of the country. 
Most of them, however, have been levelled in 
the course of farming operations, or for the sake 
of the stone and other materials they contained. 
Sometimes the road had a causeway erected along 
its side. The methods of construction seem to 
have varied according to the needs or the re- 
sources of the locality, but the paving, the em- 
bankment, the causeway, and the directness of 
the course, were common features of the Roman 
roads in Britain. So we may almost imagine 
what this Old Watling-street was like after the 
Roman workmen had completed it. We might, 
perhaps, have said " British " workmen, for 
there can be little doubt that the Britons had to 
take their share in the labour. It is easy to 
think of the skilled work being done by the more 
experienced Roman workmen, and much of what 
we now call unskilled labour being done, under 
Roman direction, by the subjugated Briton. 

Before we go any farther let us have another 
look at the map. Let us see if we can make out 
any other interesting facts about those ancient 
times. Here is a modern map. It shews the 
great railways of England. Now look at those 
great trunk-lines. Where do they run to? They 
all run to one centre, and that centre is London. 
And why do they do this? The reason is, that 
London is not only the greatest city of England, 
but it is also the greatest mart, and the greatest 
port. Now here again is this other map, that of 
" Britain in Roman Times." Look at those 
black lines indicating the Roman roads. What 
do you notice? Yes, you notice that, just as the 
great trunk railways run to London, or radiate 
from London, like the spokes of a wheel, so did 
those old Roman roads. 

Here is our own Watling-street, you see, 
whose course we have already described. Then 
there is Stane-street, running from London to 
Chichester in the south ; Ermine-street, frpm 
London to the north ; and that great highway, 
whose name seems to have been lost, which runs 
from London south-west as far as Exeter, and 
north-east into the Eastern Counties. There 
are six great roads, radiating from London as a 
centre. Does not that suggest to us that London 
must have been a place of considerable import- 
ance even in those remote days? That it was 
o is also borne out by the fact that the Romans 

called the city Augusta, in honour of their Em- 
peror of that name. 

But, under the Roman rule, you may be pretty 
sure that London increased in importance, and 
as it did so, this very road, which now forms 
the northern boundary of Eltham parish, became 
of greater and greater importance. By an ex- 
amination of the map you will see that it was 
the direct course between London and Dover, 
and that was the nearest way to Gaul, which was 
the route to Rome. Rome ruled Britain through 
its Governors, somewhat in the way that Eng- 
land rules India at the present time. There 
were, however, no means of rapid communication 
no telegraph, no railway. Imperial troops, 
imperial despatches, in fact every communication 
between the imperial rulers in Rome and the 
ruled in Britain, had to go by road, and the one 
great highway along which they travelled must 
have been this part of Watling-street. 

Now, the reading of history, even in a super- 
ficial sort of way, is a dull and dreary pastime, 
unless you exercise a little imagination ; so, stand- 
ing as we do now in this interesting part of 
Eltham, let us look back in imagination across 
the intervening nineteen centuries, and try to 
picture what those earliest Roman invaders saw 
when they passed this way. When immortal 
Caesar climbed the hill on the other side, follow- 
ing the old British trackway along which the 
Britons had but lately fled in hasty retreat, he 
looked out upon an expanse of country, even 
as we can look now. 

But the face of the country was very different. 
From suitable vantage points we may look down 
upon the slated roofs of Well Hall, and on to 
Eltham village, with its two spires pointing 
upwards ; further away in the hazy distance we 
may discern Sidcup and Chislehurst and other 
places, and in the intervening spaces cultivated 
fields and market gardens, or park-like meadows, 
characteristic of modern Kent. What Csesar 
looked down upon was an expanse of forest, con- 
sisting mainly of oak, ash, holly, or yew. There 
the red deer, wild oxen, and wild hogs found 
cover. The beaver and water fowl were com- 
mon to every stream, affording ready prey to 
such beasts as the wild cat, the wolf, and the 
bear. He probably saw but few natives, for, in 
the first place they were not very numerous. It 


has been said that their number right through 
the country did not exceed two millions. In the 
second place, they were not likely to expose 
themselves to view, seeing that they had only 
recently suffered defeat. 

But the land was not all forest, nor were the 
" wild wood wanderers," as the natives have 
leen called, quite the savages that they are 
sometimes described. There were clearings in 
the forests, where the natives cultivated their 
wheat, barley, millet, and even roots and fruit 
trees. They tilled the land with wheeled 
ploughs, and knew the use of loam and chalk as 
manures. Upon these open spaces might have 
been seen the primitive huts, circular, wattled, 

merchandise. Upon its banks are thickly-popu- 
lated towns, Woolwich, Greenwich, Deptford, 
and other places, now component parts of the 
great city of London, busy hives of men, from 
which arises the buzz of industry. Csesar looked 
oa no such scene as this. The old river was 
there, but it had not then been made to confine 
its waters within its banks. Far away to the 
right and left it spread itself out in swamps and 
lagoons. When the tide was up it covered the 
land for many miles, almost like a sea. When 
it returned the swampy islands revealed them- 
selves, and we may imagine that among its many 
channels, or over the surface of the main stream, 
the native fishermen plied their coracles, or 


and thatched. It needs no great stretch of 
imagination to picture such a settlement here- 
abouts, in this sunny valley, say, below Shooters'- 
hill, where the natives kept their tiny breed of 
cows, and in those intervals of time, when the 
demands of agriculture were not imperative, 
worked at basket making, sending the hand- 
made articles to foreign markets for sale. The 
osier beds of the great river so near at hand 
would have supplied ample materials for the 
industry. An old Roman writer has recorded 
that basket making was peculiarly a British in- 
dustry, and that British baskets were exported 
to the Continent. 

Then, what about the prospect on the other 
side of the hill? There we free the Thames, 
with its procession of mighty ships bearing 

other primitive boats, in search of daily food. 

Well, may we say, as we survey the scene at 
our feet, " Look on this picture and on this." 
Then, after four hundred years, there came those 
last dramatic scenes, when Rome was humbled, 
and was obliged to withdraw her men from 
Britain, to protect their fatherland in Italy. 
Four hundred years is a very long time when 
compared with the usual span of a man's life. 
During those centuries of Roman occupation, 
immense changes had taken place in the con- 
dition of the people, their habits of life, their 
industries, their religion. Even the face of the 
land, too, had undergone a change. New towns 
had sprung up upon the great roads, new methods 
of building had been introduced. Roman villas 
were familiar objects upon the landscape. You 


may see the floor of such a villa, in Greenwich 
Park, exposed to view at the present day, and 
it is quite within the bounds of possibility that 
some such Roman residences existed about here 
too. Who knows? 

But to Roman rule and influence there came 
an abrupt end. Rome was in danger. Home 
was the word. The exodus began. Along those 

great highways that converged upon London 
the Augusta Trinobantum of the Caesars there 
commenced the great retreat. And from Augusta 
to the sea, there passed, this way, the main bulk 
of those who were bound Rome-ward. Surely it 
was a tragedy which the old road witnessed in 
those last days of Rome in Britain; a tragedy of 
such a character that its ultimate effect was to- 
change the course of our National history. 

No. 7. 

(From Engraving in " Archaeologia," 1782). 

No. 9. 


(From Engraving in " ArchEeologia," 1782). 

(From an old Engraving). 

No. 10. 


{From an old Engraving). 

No. ii. 



No. 12. 



(From an old Print). 



Now, although Eltham is singularly rich in 
relics which are memorials of one or the other 
of the recognised periods of English history, we 
seem to have nothing left to us to look at 
no old road, no old ruin that we can touch 
and say of it " This was, certainly, the handi- 
work of those fierce fighting folk from over- 
sea, who came and settled here and first started 
Eltham and gave the place its name." 

But there is a stretch of land on the side 
of Shooter's-hill " Eltham Common " where 
the furze bushes grow, and where we have a 
right to take a stroll if we like; and there is 
the fact recorded in the encyclopedia, or the 
guide book, that "Eltham is in the Hundred of 

Blackheath," and, moreover, there is the very 
name itself, "Elt-ham"; all of which associate 
the village with what we call ths " Saxon 

Though these plain and obvious facts may 
seem rather dull and uninteresting, they are 
luminous enough, if we know how to use them, 
to throw a light across the long fifteen cen- 
turies and enable us to discern something of 
Eltham in the making. 

We need not dwell at any length upon the 
troubles endured by the Britons when their 
protectors, the Romans, had left them for ever. 
You may read all about that in your history 



books how the Jutes came o%er and landed 
in Kent to help the British to fight the barbar- 
ians from the north, the Picts and Scots how, 
when they saw that the land was fair and fer- 
tile, these very Jutes turned against the 
Britons themselves and drove them out how 
there followed fellow tribes of Jutes, and Eng- 
lish, and Saxons, who, landing on the eastern 
and southern coasts, continued the great strug- 
gle which lasted more than a hundred years, 
and did not cease until the Britons had been 
driven away westward into Cornwall and 
Wales, and the intruding tribes had estab- 
lished themselves in the land and laid the 
foundation of this nation of ours which we 
call England 

But, to get an idea of how Eltham came into 
existence we must know something of these 
fierce people who came with fire and sword and 
devastated the land, burning Christian 
churches, razing to the ground the beautiful 
Roman villas, and wiping out whatever was 
left of Roman civilization, for they were our 
forefathers, and it was they or their immediate 
descendents, who settled " here about," and 
gave their settlement the name of Eltham. 

Let us have a look at them as they lived 
yonder on the bleak shores of the Baltic, for, 
by knowing something of their habits of life 
over there, we may better understand the new 
kind of social life they set up here new, at 
any rate, to this land. 

They were a fine race of people, tall, fair- 
haired, gray-eyed, brave, and adventurous, and 
they lived together in clans or families. Note 
that fact particularly. Family life was the 
basis upon which their social system was built 
up. Each family lived by itself and took all 
the necessary measures for the benefit and 
protection of its members. 

Each little village community lived apart 
from all the others, and around it there lay a 
stretch of appropriated land, sometimes it 
was a broad belt of virgin forest, and some- 
times moorland, and this belt was called a 
"mark." It was the boundary; and very jeal- 
ously was it guarded by the " marksmen." A 
well-known writer says of it : " Whoever 
crossed the ' mark ' was bound to give notice 

of his coming by blowing a horn, or else he 
was cut down at once as a stealthy enemy. The 
' marksmen ' wished to remain separate from 
all others, and only to mix with those of their 
own kin. In this primitive lore of separation 
we have the germ of that local independence 
and that isolated private home life which is one 
of our characteristics as a people at the present 

Can we wonder that tribes living like this 
found the rich wooded vales of Britain a great 
attraction ? Kent must have appeared to them 
as well suited for 'such a mode of life. There 
were wide clearings in the forests which had 
been already applied to farming purposes by 
the British, ideal spots in which to establish 
their villages communities. The temptation 
was irresistible. To secure so fair a laud was 
worth the sacrifice of blood. So hither they 
came, tribe after tribe. They fought and 
bled, but made thf> land their own. 

You may fairly ask, was the first settlement 
at Eltham early in the English conquest, or 
did it spring up in later years, when the coun- 
try had, to some extent, settled down ? But 
it is hard to fix the exact time. All that we 
can be sure about is that it came into exis- 
tence in Saxon times, but in which century is 
a matter of doubt, and will remain so until 
further evidence is brought to light to help us 
to decide. 

But let us try and picture the first beginning 
of a typical English village, and see to what 
extent the conditions may be applied to 

A tribe of Angles, or Saxons, or Jutes, sud- 
denly swoop down upon a district and find that 
it will suit their needs exactly. If Britons 
are already in possession, out they have to go. 
There is a fight, may be, great shouts and the 
clash of arms. In the end, the Britons are 
driven away, or put to the sword, or made 
slaves. Then the new comers set to work to 
establish themselves. They destroy the Brit- 
ish huts, and construct others of their own, 
and after a while there arises a village of rude 
dwellings surrounded by a wooden stockade. 
Each family puts up a little homestead, con- 
sisting of a small wooden shanty, a court-yard, 



and a cattle-fold, and the land upon which this 
homestead stands becomes their own. Here, 
you see, is the beginning of private property 
in land. 

The forest and pasture land outside the 
stockade become the common property of the 
community. Every householder can turn his 
stock upon it his cattle into the pasture land, 
his pigs into the ring of forest. But to keep 
the too selfish person within bounds, and to be 
sure that he does not encroach upon the rights 
and privileges of his neighbour, and so, by an 
act of injustice disturb the harmony of the 

us as the " common-land." Its uses have not 
been entirely diverted to other purposes. There 
are no Anglo Saxon buildings left to us. The 
early Saxons were not good builders. Their 
structures were mostly of wood. They wer& 
not of a character to last many years. So the 
hall of the headman, with the dwellings of the 
churls, and the huts of the serfs, have long since 
passed away. But we have Eltham Common 
still left to remind us of the conditions under 
which our ancient forefathers lived. 

In those rustic homes what an important per- 
son was the head of each family. The Eltham 


community, an officer is appointed to see that 
no man trespassses or turns more than his 
proper share of cattle into the common ground. 

Besides the woodlands and the common lands 
which belong to the tribe as a whole, a certain 
part of the land is set apart for tillage. Three 
large fields fulfil this purpose, one field being 
allowed to lie fallow each year. Every house- 
holder is allotted a portion of each of these 
fields, which he and his family are expected to 

Eltham Common. Yes. Here we have what 
is left of the " Common lands," set apart 
by the earliest Eltham community. Through 
all these long centuries it has come down to 

churl was, truly, the king of his household. 
He made the laws for the government of his- 
family, and he enforced them sternly, too. But. 
his duties were not limited entirely to his 
family. He had public responsibilities. As 
the head of a house, it was his right, and his 
duty, to attend the " Moot," or Village Coun- 
cil, to help in the management of the affairs 
of the community as a body. 

Now-a-days we still have our " Moot " but 
it has a different name. Our fathers, or 
grandfathers, will recollect the village "moot" 
as the " Vestry." In all country villages it is- 
now the " Parish Council." Mottingham, for 
instance, has such a " moot." But, as Eltham 
has been made part and parcel of Woolwich. 



our " moot " goes under the dignified name of 
" Borough Council." Indeed, our " moot," at 
the present time, is resisting an attempt of the 
War Office to encroach upon our rights in the 
"common land" of Eltham. 

It would not be possible, in these times, for 
the head of every family to be a member of the 
" moot." The number would be too large. So 
we elect special members to look after the 
business for us. Notice, however, that the 
electors are mainly composed of householders. 
Therefore, you will notice, our present system 
of local government is based upon those prin- 
ciples which were first applied by our adven- 
turous ancestors when they came over and took 

We are considering these matters here 
because they had so much to do with " Eltham 
in the Making," and, unless you keep them 
well in your mind you will never get a really 
intelligent idea of the history of Eltham, nor, 
indeed of the history of your country. 

In course of time, the families of the original 
communities increased, and branches of the 
old stock went farther afield and set up new 
communities. To enable these communities to 
act together in resisting a common foe, it is 
said that " hundreds " first came into exis- 
tence. A hundred families supplied a hun- 
dred warriors a chosen champion for each 


A writer says that "these hundred families 
recognised a bond of union with each other, 
and a common inheritance, and arranged them- 
selves under one name, for a general 
purpose, whether for defence, administration 
of justice, or other reasons." 

The common name of the hundred was 
sometimes derived from that of some chieftain 
or from some tree or familiar place where it 
was the custom of the hundred to meet. For 
this district the meeting place was on that 
bleak open country now called Blackheath. So 
it was called the "Hundred of Blackheath." 

If Eltham found its origin in the early 
period of the Saxon occupation, and it may 
have done, although we cannot be certain 
about it, we may picture in our minds a meet- 
ing of the hundred. On the appointed day. 

a hundred champions mounted their horses 
and proceeded to Blackheath, there to meet the 
acknowledged chief of the " hundred." There 
they gathered about him. When he dismounted 
from his steed and planted his spear in the 
ground, each warrior in his turn touched the 
leader's spear with his own, in token of the 
compact that existed between them, and as a 
solemn pledge of loyal support. Then would 
they confer together, in their vigorous Anglo- 
Suxon speech. If a speaker said something 
that the meeting did not agree with, they made 
loud exclamations of dissent, but if they 
approved of what he said, they knocked 
together their spears as a sign of agreement. 

A hundred would meet somewhat in this way 
in its very earliest days. In course of time, as 
the population increased and the conditions of 
social life gradually changed, the work of the 
hundred increased more and more, and took in 
the trial of criminals, settlement of disputes, 
bargains of sale and such like matters. 

Then, in the course, of a long time, the "hun- 
dred " ceased to be known as a hundred fami- 
lies, but came to mean a hundred "hides " of 
land, and a division of a county, even as we 
recognise it now. It is said that Alfred the 
Great divided the land up into counties, hun- 
dreds, and tithiugs. It would, perhaps, be 
more likely that he took the ' hundreds " as he 
found them, combined them to form counties, 
and divided them to form tithings. At any 
rate, we should bear in mind that in the first 
instance the "hundred" referred to "persons," 
and, subsequently, the name got to be applied 
to "land." 

It would be a satisfaction to be able to fix 
the eact date of the birth of Eltham. But, at 
present, it is a matter of doubt. The earliest 
records of the " Hundred of Blackheath " do 
not seem to mention Eltham. This suggests 
that the village was not in existence at the 
time. On the other hand, there is the " com- 
mon land." There it is pointing distinctly to 
antiquity. Then there is the name. Elt-ham, 
by which it has been known from the begin- 

" Eltham " is generally regarded as a 
modified form of " Eald-ham." This is Anglo- 
Saxon, and, therefore, it would have been 



applied to the place by the stranger folk the 

" Eald " means " old," and " ham " is the 
same word as the German " heim," meaning 
" home." So, " Eald-ham " means " Old- 
home," or " Old place of abode." 

Does it not seem a little strange that the 
term " old " should have been used in the first 
place ? Why "old " ? The question gives rise 
to several interesting theories. 

One of these is that there was, originally 
only a residence here, perhaps a royal resid- 
ence. That in the course of years a village 
grew up around it, and it came to be named 
after the residence or "old-home." This theory 
seems to fit in with the fact that we find no 
mention of Eltham in the earliest records of 
the " Hundred of Blackheath." 

Another suggestion is that a British settle- 
ment may have existed here, and that when 
the Saxon came and founded a new colony, he 

named it " old-place of abode " as a conse- 

Another theory casts a doubt upon the gen- 
erally accepted meaning of the name. It sug- 
gests that " Eald " may have been the name 
or the corruption of the name of some clan, 
and, as was often the case, the clan name was 
given to the place, just as Billing-ham is the 
"home of the Billings," and Wokingham, is 
the "abode of the Wokings." 

But there is uncertainty about it all. What 
we may be pretty sure of is that Eltham came 
into existence somewhere, in the misty past, 
long anterior to the coming of the Normans. 
When we tread the soft turf of the "common 
land " on Shooter's-hill, we may feel some 
satisfaction in being in direct contact with a 
relic of those distant ages, and, as we have 
been doing to-day we may find a pleasant exer- 
cise for our imagination in trying to estimate 
the possibilities and probabilities of what took 
place when Eltham was in the making. 





One of the earliest bits of really authentic 
written history about Eltham is to be found in 
Domesday Book, that remarkable document 
which was compiled by order of William the 
Conqueror, and completed about 1086, A.D. 
Here we are told that "Alteham" was held 
by Alwold under the King. " Alteham," of 
course, means " Ealdham," or " Eltham," and 
we must suppose that the Norman scribe who 
wrote the name in this way, was not particu- 
larly good at the spelling of English. This was 
excusable, under the circumstances, so we may 
forgive him. 

Hut the statement thus set forth throws much 
light upon what had been happening in the 
ancient village. It reminds us of the many 
changes that had been taking place, in social 
life, since those very early days of " Eltham 
in the Making," alluded to in the last chapter. 

Six hundred years had passed away since the 
Saxons first came and settled here. Six hundred 
years since Hengist founded the Kingdom of 
Kent, and during that long period many small 
Saxon kingdoms had risen, and existed for a 

time, to finally disappear, as by degrees they 
were all wrought into one kingdom and ruled 
by one king. 

When Alwold, the lord of " Alteham," 
gathered his friends about him in his manorial 
hall, for we may suppose that he had one, 
although no mention seems to have been made 
of it anywhere when the ale was quaffed, and 
songs were sung, and the jests went round, if 
by chance the talk turned upon lore, and the 
doings of their forefathers, as it sometimes 
would, very ancient history must have seemed 
the beginning of England, just as to-day " the 
Wars of the Roses," " the Battle of Agincourt,'' 
or the Norman Conquest, seem to us very far 
away in the past. 

Alwold's over-lord was the King, Edward the 
Confessor. You know something about him, 
how he was a man of saintly character, living 
a strict religious life, and how, on account ot 
this, h has been known ever since as Edward 
the "Confessor." It was he who brought over 
the expert Norman workmen to build the beau- 
tiful abbey at Westminster. 



On a clear day we can see the old Abbey from 
our playground. It may be that the boys and 
girls of Alwold's days looked out from our 
Eltham fields at the distant Abbey, and watched 
it slowly rising up, or listened to their elders 
when they talked about its building. It may 
be, also, that a few of those older folk had some 
grumbles to make abeut the king's fondness for 
foreigners, and his bringing over these work- 
men to do his work. It is most likely, how- 
ever, that complaints of this kind were only 
made in whispers, for was not Alwold lord of 
" Alteham," and did he not hold " Alteham" 
under the king himself? 

We are apt to forget the children when we 
read history, unless they happen to be young 
princes or young noblemen. We are so taken 
up by the deeds of the heroes, and men of 
action, and noble ladies, that we think but 
little of the multitudes that made up England, 
and of the merry lads and lasses who were to 
be the future builders of the kingdom, just as 
you young folks of to-day will be the future 
citizens of the Empire. There were interest- 
ing boys and girls in "Alteham," when Alwold 
held it under the King, just as there are inter- 
esting boys and girls now. But they lived 
under very different conditions. Let us give 
them a thought, now and then, when we con- 
eider those conditions. 

Who was Alwold? We do not know anything 
about him or his family. But we may assume 
that he was a rather important person, or the 
king would never have entrusted him with 
one of his own manors. He paid the king six- 
teen pounds a year for the use of the manor. 
It does not sound much in these days. But in 
the time of the Confessor, and for a long time 
afterwards, a pound was worth a great deal 
more than it is now, and sixteen pounds then 
was a good large sum. 

Alwold may have been a soldier, or a great 
hunter, or a statesman, or he may have been 
one of those " lore thanes," as they called them, 
who, unlike thanes in general, were fond of 
study and the reading of books. The king was 
of this kind of habit. Alwold, who held "Alte- 
ham " under the king, may have been a man 
of his kind, too. We do not know. 

But as the chroniclers have not been good 
enough to tell us what sort of a man he was, 
there is no reason why we should not make a 
kind of fancy picture of him in our mind's eye. 

Imagine you see him, then, on a bright 
summer day, when the fields and meadows of 
" Alteham " were dressed in their fairest garb, 
riding forth from his huge wooden manor 
house, upon his favourite horse. He wears no 
covering to his head, save the natural covering 
of thick, fair hair, which hangs down to his 
shoulders; and a full, fair beard adds dignity 
to his intellectual face. He wears a red 
woollen tunic, which reaches to his knees, and 
around his waist is a leathern belt, untanned. 
Breeches of similar material reach to his knees, 
while the lower parts of his legs are clothed in 
linen hoseu, laced or bandaged with cross 
garters, called shank guards. His shoes are of 
leather, uutauned, and from his shoulders there 
is suspended a square mantle, which hangs in 
graceful folds behind. 

There! Don't you think our Alwold is a 
handsome fellow, as he sits easily his noble 
steed, which canters gracefully across the 
Alteham greensward? 

The Domesday scribe tells us nothing about 
the house of Alwold. But it was no uncom- 
mon thing for Domesday scribes to leave out 
all mention of a Manor House or a Church. 
Indeed the survey of Churches and Church- 
yards seems to have been outside the scope of 
Domesday Book. So, because we find no men- 
tion of a Manor House, nor yet of a Church, 
at " Alteham," at that time, we must not jump 
to the conclusion that there was no Manor 
House and no Church. The probabilities are 
that there were both. 

And although Domesday really refers to the 
period immediately after the Saxon thane had 
gone, and a Norman Lord had taken his place, 
it may be taken to fairly represent the condi- 
tion of the village in the late Saxon times and 
Alwold's day. The social condition of the 
classes below that of the lord was not greatly 
changed at first, except in name. The 
" ceorls " were now called "villans," the 
" cottiers " were " bordars," and the " thralls " 



were "slaves." Otherwise the change was not 
so very great at first. 

Domesday says that ' Alteham " answered for 
"one suling and a half. There is the arable 
land of twelve teams. In demesne there are 
two teams. And forty two villans with twelve 
bordars have eleven teams. Nine slaves there. 
And twenty-two acres of meadow. Wood of fifty 
hogs. In the time of King Edward it was 
worth sixteen pounds. When he received it 
twelve pounds. And now twenty pounds. 
Alwold held it of the King." 

" What queer words ! " you will exclaim. 
They are old English words that have gone out 
of use. Let us read it again, giving, as near 
as we can the interpretation of those strange 

" Alteham " answered for, " about 240 acres, 
for a suling was as much land as a team of 
eight oxen could plough in a year, together 
with the pasture land that was required for 
the feeding of the oxen. 

" There is arable land of about 1,800 acres. 

" In that portion of the land around the 
Manor and cultivated by the lord himself there 
are about 320 acres. 

" There is nothing ' nllianous ' about the 
forty-two villans. They are called villans only 
because they live in the villa or village. They 
are respectable men, who are tenants of the 
lord, and farm the land of the manor, except 
the lord's own land, or demesne as it is called. 
They pay rent for their land to the lord, and 
sometimes, in place of rent, help in the tilling 
of the lord's land. They have to provide one 
or more oxen for the manorial plough. They 
are freemen, though they may not give up their 
farms without the special permission of their 

"The twelve bordars, are also called cottien, 
or cottagers. They sometimes had small allot- 
ments, but they kept no oxen. They helped 
in the cultivation of the lord's land, and also 
worked some days of the week on the farms. 

"The nine slaves were attached to the lord's 
land. Their lot was not a happy one. They 
were of a class that were supposed to have de- 
scended from the British who were kept in 

thraldom. They were born in slavery, and 
generally died in that state. They were 
attached to the Manor, and were bought 
and sold with the land and cattle. They 
could be scourged and branded, as the 
lord pleased, and even if one was killed, 
the punishment was only a small fine. Saxons 
who were captured in war, or those who were 
unable to pay fines for offences committed, 
were often made slaves or serfs. Occasionally 
a lord would set a slave free. He would give 
him a lance or sword, and tell him that he was 
at liberty to go where he pleased. The slaves 
had to do the hardest work they were the 
ploughmen, shepherds, and swine herds. 

So, from all this, we may picture in our 
minds what life in " Alteham " was like wheu 
Alwold was the lord. The great house, built 
of wood, low, one storied, and around it clus- 
tering the huts of the serfs who wait on the 
lord. Further afield the cottages of the vil- 
lans and the thralls with mud walls and roofs 
thatched with reed. 

The great house of the lord has its hall 
and chapel. The hall is the principal apart- 
ment; it is there that Alwold feasts his guests. 
It has a fire in the centre and a smoke-hole in 
the roof, and on the clay floor rushes are 
strewn and changed from time to time. It is 
furnished with a heavy clumsy table set upon 
tressels, along the sides of which the guests 
sit upon benches and stools. 

What feasts they have, for these Saxon fore- 
fathers of ours, love eating and drinking. The 
table is covered with a cloth, and upon it are 
set the platters, bowls, dishes, horns, and 
knives. Swine's flesh is the usual meat, and 
when the joint is roasted, it is carried round 
the table on the spit, and each one cuts off a 
slice for himself. The usual vegetable is cole- 
wort, and the usual drink is ale, though a rich 
man may afford wine and mead. Table man- 
ners are sometimes rather slovenly. 

They eat and drink far into the night, and 
on very festive occasions through successive 
days and nights. As the flowing bowl is going 
its round, so also is the harp, which is handed 
from one to another, as each contributes his 
song to the minstrelsy of the evening. And 
when it is time to sleep, many of the men 

No. 13. 


(From the Moat, South-East). 

No. 14. 


South Side. 


f*< f.^ . ^ . ".- . .,.,. 

No. 15. 


(From a Pencil Sketch). 

No. 16. 

(From an old Engraving), 

No, 17. 


Residence of Mr. C. D. Wilson. 
On the right the part erected by Mr. Bloxam, which connects the older building with the Great Hall. 

No, 18. 

Residence of Mr Newton Dunn. 



throw themselves upon mattresses in the hall, 
upon the floor. The lord retires to his bed, 
which is a sort of crib or trough filled with 
straw, with a coverlid of skin, and so they sleep 
off the effect of their carouse. 

But apart from their less praiseworthy 
habits, those ancient Elthamites, contrived to 
get a good deal of real enjoyment out of life. 
They lived a great deal in the open air, and 
their amusements were often found in such 
manly sports as running, leaping, wrestling, 
riding and fighting. There was plenty of 
hunting, hawking and fishing, for the lord 
could hunt on his own grounds, and boars, 
deer, hares, and even wild goats were some- 
times to be found. 

The tradesmen of the village were very im- 
portant persons then. The smith had to look 
after the iron-work of the ploughs, and 
to shoe the horses. Then there were the car- 
penter, the stone-mason, the constable, the 
steward of the manor, who had to look after 
the interests of the lord and the tenant, and 
among many others, that important person, the 
bee-keeper. Bee-keeping was a great business 
in those days, for you must remember that 
there were no colonies to send them sugar, and 
those who liked sweets had to depend for the 
luxury upon the bees. Moreover, was not honey 
wine sweet to the tooth of those old forbears 
of ours ? No wonder, the bee-keeper was an 
important person. 

The great blot upon the social life of the 
time was "serfdom." Here is a little dialogue, 
written at the time by an old Saxon writer. 
Does it not bring the condition of the serf 
vividly before our minds ? : 

" ' What sayest thou, ploughman ? How dost 
thou do thy work ? ' 

"'Oh, my lord, hard do I work. I go out 
at daybreak, driving the oxen to field, and I 
yoke them to the plough. Nor is it ever so- 
hard winter that I dare loiter at home, for fear 
of my lord, but the oxen yoked, and the 
ploughshare and the coulter fastened to the 
plough, every day must I plough a full acre, 
or more.' 

" ' Hast thou a comrade ? ' 

" ' I have a boy driving the oxen with an 
iron goad, who also is hoarse with cold and 

" ' What more dost thou in the day f ' 

" ' Verily then I do more. I must fill th& 
bin of the oxen with hay, and water them, and 
carry out the dung. Ha ! Ha ! hard work 
it is, hard work it is ! because I am not free. ' ' 

Let us hope that the lot of the slaves- 
that were attached to the Manor of Alteham 
was happier than that of this poor thrall, see- 
ing that their lord was Alwold who held the 
Manor under the good king Edward 

FEAST AT A ROUND TABLE (Bayeui Tapestry.) 

WHEEL BED (Cotton M S.) 




The year 1066 was a fateful year for Eltham, 
as it was for the whole of England. In its 
earlier days the Royal House was over-shadowed 
by death, an event which had a direct effect 
upon the conditions of life in our village. 
Then, just after Eastertide, appeared the 
strange sign in the sky fore-boding the over- 
throw of a kingdom, and filling the hearts of 
men with fear. Summer brought wars and 
rumours of wars. The fall of the year wit- 
nessed the great fight and England stricken 
beneath the heel of a foreign foe, and, ere its 
eventful months had run their course, Eltham 
had passed into other hands, and Alwold was 
no longer to hold its Manor under the King. 
Surely, it was a terrible year, and it left its 
mark upon our history, national and local, as 
no other year has ever done. 

When the New Year was born, Edward the 
King lay dying. For many weeks he had bat- 
tled with disease. In those latter days he 
uttered strange words, and his people, filled with 
reverence and awe, declared that he had the 

gift of prophecy. On January 5th, 1066, the 
" Confessor " passed away. 

We may be sure that the folk of Eltham, 
especially Alwold, who held the Eltham lands of 
the King, were distressed by this event, for, 
though the English people were not well 
pleased by his liking for foreigners, Edward 
the Confessor was held, generally, in esteem 
and love by his subjects. He had been spared 
to see the completion of his own new Church 
at Westminster the noble Abbey, which, with 
its additions, is the pride of all Englishmen to 
day. But he was too ill to be present at itf> 
consecration on December 28th. "Holy Inno- 
cents' Day." A week or so later he died, and, 
the very next day, January 6th, they solemnly 
conveyed his body to the beautiful minster, and 
gently laid him to rest. There is something 
sad and pathetic about this incident, yet it 
seems consistent and beautiful that he, who 
conceived the building of that majestic edifice, 
who watched it lovingly through the years of 
its erection, should have been the first of that 



long array of kings and heroes who have beea 
buried within its walls. 

King Edward's death was the beginning of 
the end of Saxon rule in England, as it was 
the beginning of the end of Alwold's tenure of 

There was a great gathering at the funeral, 
for that year the dead king had called to- 
gether the assembly of wise men the Witan 
in London, instead of at Gloucester as was 
usual, and immediately after the solemn cere- 
mony of interment was over Professor Free- 
man says, that in all probability it was on the 
same day, the Witan proceeded to elect a new 
king. Was Alwold of Eltham present on that 
occasion ? There is no record to say that he 
was, but, one can well believe that the Lord of 
Eltham, being so near at hand, whether he took 
part in the important deliberations or whether 
he did not, would not have been absent on an 
occasion which was fraught with so much of 
importance to Eltham and himself. 

The Witan selected Harold, the son of Earl 
Qodwine, and he was duly installed as King 
and the Crown lands of Eltham passed into his 
hands. But Harold had rivals for the King- 
ship. There were some Englishmen who 
thought the youthful Atheling, Edgar, had a 
stronger claim. But the Atheling was young 
and weak, and the Witan wanted a strong man. 
Tostig, the brother of Harold, also set up a 
claim, but the most formidable rival was Wil- 
liam, the Duke of Normandy. William declared 
that the Confessor had promised him the 
crown. But the Confessor had no legal power 
to do this. He also accused Harold of break- 
ing an oath that he had made to support the 
claim of the Norman Duke to the throne. But 
Harold said that the oath was obtained from 
him by unfair means, and was therefore not 

And, after all, Harold's claim was the strong- 
est of all, for, not only was he specially recom- 
mended by the Confessor himself, before he 
died, as the most suitable man for the office, 
but he was duly and regularly elected by the 
Witan. In quaint language the old Chronicler 
of the time puts it thus : 

" Nathless, that wisest man, 
Dying made fast the realm 
To a high-risen man. 
Even to Harold's self, 
Who was a noble earl: 
He did at every tide 
Follow with loyal love 
All of his lord's behests, 
Both in his words and deeds: 
Naught did he e'er neglect 
What e'er of right belonged 
Unto the people's king." 

And he further says, " Now was Harold hal- 
lowed as king, but little stillness did he there 
enjoy, the while that he wielded the kingdom." 

We may well imagine that the men of Eltham 
took their proper share in these national 
events, and it is quite likely that the Eltham 
ceorls, or villans, as Domesday Book calls them, 
who farmed the manor lands were amongst the 
crowds who assembled about the new minster 
to look upon the great men and to see what 
they could of the ceremonies. But notwith- 
standing that Harold, the great warrior and 
the wise councillor, had been made king, and 
most people seemed pleased, there was in the 
air a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling that 
something was going to happen. This feeling 
was increased and intensified by the appear- 
ance of a strange sign in the sky. It was a 
comet of unusual dimensions, and, supersti- 
tious as the people were, they were easily led 
to believe by those who thought they under- 
stood such matters, that this strange " star " 
with the monster tail which seemed to sweep 
the sky, was a portent sent to warn them that 
a terrible disaster was about to overtake the 

When you read Tennyson's Play, " Harold," 
which you should all do, you will see, in the 
first act, how the poet vividly describes the 
effect of this great; comet upon the terror- 
stricken people. 

"It glares in heaven, it flares upon the Thames, 
The people are as thick as bees below, 
They hum like bees they cannot speak for 


Look to the skies, then to the river, strike 
Their hearts, and hold their babies up to it. 
I think that they would Molochize them too, 
To have the heavens clear." 



Aldwyth: Gamel, son of Orm, 

What thinkest thou this means ? 

Gamel: War, my dear lady ! 

* * * 

One of the pictures shown upon the Bayeux 
Tapestry is that of six men pointing fearfully 
"towards a star which trails a rudely drawn 
streamer of light behind it." It is explained 
that " These men are marvelling at the star." 
We do not marvel so much at comets now, and 
you will be interested to know that the comet 
which so alarmed the English in the spring of 

and had sailed up the Ouse to the City of 
York. Then Harold the King of England gath- 
ered around him his trusty men of London and 
of Kent and marched northward, and gave 
them battle. The invaders were routed, and 
Tostig and the giant Harold, King of the 
Northmen, were slain in the fight. This was 
on September 25th. Four days later Duke 
William of Normandy landed with an army 
in Sussex. 

" While the Normans were yet at Pevensey, 
an English Thane had seen them land, and 

CORONATION OF HAROLD (Bayeux Tapestry.) 

1066, is one which comes our way once in about 
every seventy-five years. They tell us that it 
will be here again in three years' time in 1910. 
When it comes, if we are alive, we may be able 
to look upon it and think of Harold the King, 
and Alwold of Eltham, and the stirring scenes 
of those old days, but it is not likely to bode 
disaster, or to fill men's hearts with fear, as 
it did when it swept the sky eight centuries 

But, as the Chronicler has told us, "Harold 
had but little stillness" during his short reign. 
The late summer brought the news that his 
brother Tostig, and Harold King of the North- 
men, had come to England with a great host. 

he went and mounted his horse, and rode 
northwards, and rested not day or night, 
where King Harold and his host were resting 
after their great fight. So the Thane came 
to King Harold, and said, ' My Lord O King, 
Duke William and his Normans have landed 
in Sussex, and they have built them a fort 
at Pevensey, and they are harrying the land, 
and they will of a truth win thy kingdom 
from thee, unless thou goest speedily and 
keepest thy land well against them ! ' 

" And presently there came a churl also 
who had come from Hastings, and he told 
King Harold how that the Normans had 
marched from Pevensey to Hastings, and how 



they had built them a castle at Hastings and 
how they were harrying the land far and 

" Then King Harold answered and said, 
' This is evil news indeed j would that I had 
been there to guard the coast, and Duke 
William never should have landed; but I 
could not be here and there too ! * So the 
King hastened with all speed to London." 
Now, would it not be interesting if we could 
only slip back, somehow, over those eight hun- 
dred and sixty years, and peep into some of the 

with him against the Duke of Normandy. Kent 
and all the southern counties quickly re- 
sponded to his call, and we may be sure that 
the men of Eltham were foremost amongst the 
men of Kent, for, apart from the patriotic 
spirit which was strong in men's hearts at that 
time, it must be remembered that Eltham was 
one of the Royal Estates, and Alwold would be 
expected to come up with his full force of 
fighting men. 

Yes, they had stirring times in the village 
for those few days. Harvest was over and men 


Eltham homes of the time into the huts of the 
cottiers and the housen of the churls, and act- 
ually hear what the folk themselves had to say 
about all these happenings ? It is most likely 
that one would find those simple villagers full 
of gloomy forebodings. The strange star with 
the sweeping tail had gone away in the early 
summer, but they had not forgotten it, and in 
these risings against their lord the King, and 
in this coming of the Norman Duke, they saw, 
only too plainly, the realisation of the message 
brought by that awful sign in the sky. 

The King abode for some six or seven days 
in London, and word was sent forth bidding all 
men to gather under his banner and to march 

could be better spared. Every available horse 
was got out and made ready. What a busy 
man was the blacksmith ! There were coats 
of mail to put into order, shields and helmets 
to make good, to say nothing of the trappings 
of the horses, and the weapons for the men. 
Every axe, and sword, and spear, and bow, was 
brought out for use, and in every house that 
sent forth a fighting man there was all the 
bustle of preparation. 

In the old wall that bounds our Church-yard 
a stone is fixed, upon which is graven the 
names of those Eltham heroes, who, a few years 
ago, fell fighting for their Queen and country 
in far-off South Africa. It is right that we 



should keep them in memory. The great 
Empire of which we are proud has been built 
up by the sacrifice of life and labour on the 
part of individuals. And we should remember 
that there is a long line of heroes whose names 
have never been recorded upon the roll of fame. 
The sturdy Eltham cottiers and churls, who, in 
those fateful days, strode forth to fight for 
King and Fatherland, who fought and fell at 
Senlac and never returned to gladden aching 
hearts in those simple Eltham homes, are of a 
great host who have kept aglow that fire of 
patriotism which has made the British nation 
what it is. 

You know well the story of the fierce fight 
at Senlac on Saturday, October 16th, 1066 the 
death of Harold and his great Earls fighting to 
the last, the rout of the English army, the 
triumph of William. It is a thrilling story. 
The English were defeated, but not disgraced. 
But it brought about a new order of things. 
Then passed Eltham into other hands, and 
Alwold the Englishman, goes out of the story. 
We know not whither he went, or what was his 
fate. And the new lords of Eltham were 
^trangers who spoke a foreign tongue. 

(From an old Print). 



Let us refer once more to Domesday Book. 
These are the words of the scribe: 

" Haimo holds of the Bishop, Alteham . . . 
.... In the time of King Edward it was 
worth sixteen pounds. When he received it 
twelve pounds. Now twenty pounds." 
Notice. There is no mention of King Harold. 
Domesday Book ignored his very existence as 
King. It was William's policy to impress up- 
on the English that Harold was an impostor, 
an adventurer who had no right to the throne 
at all. He wanted them to forget Harold and 
to recognise that he, William, was the only 
true successor to Edward the Confessor. So 
jou get no mention of Harold, the King, in 
Domesday. There is a stoi-y concerning the 
burial of Harold, which shews how relentless 
was the spirit of William in this respect. It 

is so beautifully and simply told by Professor 
Freeman, that we really must read it in his 
ords : 

" The great battle being over, Duke 
William came back to the hill and stayed 
there all night. He had the dead bodies 
swept away around where the Standard had 
stood, and there he pitched his tent and did 
eat and drink. The next day he had the 
dead among his own men buried, and he gave 
leave that the women and people of the 
country might take away and bury the bodies 
of the slain English. Many women, there- 
fore, came and took away the bodies of their 
husbands and sons and brothers. Then the 
two Canons of Waltham, who had followed 
the Army, came to the Duke and craved that 
they might take the body of their founder, 





King Harold, and bury it in his own minster 
at Walthain. And Gytha, the King's mother, 

also craved the body of her son She 

offered the Duke King Harold's weight in 
gold if she might have his body to bury at 
Waltham. But the Duke said nay; for that 
Harold was perjured and excommunicated, 
and might not be buried in holy ground. 
Now, there was in the Norman army one 
William Malet, a brave knight, who was in 
some way or other a kinsman or friend of 
King Harold's; so Duke William bade 
William Malet take the body of his friend 
and bury it on the sea coast, under a heap of 
stones, which men call a cairn. For Duke 
William said: 'He guarded the shore when 
living, let him guard it now that he is dead.' 
But no man could find the body, for it was 
all defaced and mangled, and it had been 
thrown aside when the bodies were cleared 
away for William's tent to be pitched. But 
there was a lady called Edith, whom, for her 
beauty men called ' Swanneshals,' or the 
Swan's Neck, whom Harold had loved 
in old times when he was Earl of the East 
Angles." She was able to point out the 
dead King, so they buried him under a heap 
of stones beside the sea. " But after a while, 
when Duke William was crowned King of the 
English, his heart became milder, and he 
let men take up the body of King Harold 
from under the cairn, and bury it in his own 
minster at Waltham." 

There. We have read this story, although it 
is not exactly Eltham history, because it shews 
that hard, harsh nature of William which was 
responsible, among other things, for keeping 
the name of Harold out of the Domesday 
record. But for all that, Harold was not for- 
gotten, and to this day, in the memory of his 
countrymen, he stands for all that is noble and 
great in an Englishman. 

" Haino holds of the Bishop, Alteham." 

The Bishop was Odo, a half brother of 
William. Let us consider some of the history 
of Odo, and see how it was that he became 
possessed of Eltham. When Odo was about 
twelve years of age he was made Bishop of 
Bayeux, which is a town in Normandy. Rather 
young to be a bishop, you will say, but we do 

sometimes read of foolish and inconsistent 
things in history. Odo has not left a very good 
name behind. He was ambitious and selfish. 
Indeed, his ambition led to his loss of Eltham, 
and, for a time, to his undoing. He is, how- 
ever, credited with one very good thing, and 
that is with getting the famous Bayeux Tapes- 
try made. If it had not been for this wonderful 
piece of needlework we should not have known 
so much of the Norman invasion of England aa 
we do. 

It is two hundred and fourteen feet long and 
twenty inches wide, and the pictures worked 
upon it represent scenes of the invasion and of 
the Battle of Hastings. There are on it six 
hundred and twenty-three persons, seven hun- 
dred and sixty-two horses, dogs, &c., thirty- 
seven buildings, and forty-one boats. It must 
have taken a long while to make, but one great 
historian says that it is the best and most re- 
liable account of the Conquest that exists. It 
is said that Odo had this work done for the 
ornamentation of his Cathedral Church at 
Bayeux. So we may give him credit for one 
useful piece of work, at least. 

When William decided upon the invasion of 
England, he had much trouble in persuading 
the Norman barons to join with him in the 
expedition. They did not like the idea. They 
thought it would be doomed to failure. But 
when William told them that if they helped 
him to success, he would divide amongst them 
the estates of the English nobility, they began 
to think better of the matter, and ultimately 
agreed to go with him. 

Odo, who was quite a young man at the time, 
was very active in bringing round the barons 
to William's side. So was Robert, his brother, 
and, of course, another half brother of Will- 
iam. Though Odo was a bishop, and a young 
one, he was a warrior, and well acquainted with, 
the ways of fighting men. It must have 
been a fine sight at Hastings to see this young 
bishop riding into battle. When the order was 
given to the Norman troops to advance, Will- 
iam the Duke rode at their head, and on one 
side of him rode Odo, on the other side rode 
Robert. The sight of these three brothers on 
their chargers, leading the army to battle, muse 















z <: 





/t'/l/t /V//// 


I'. .:,-..! i , v 

(Engraved by S. & N. Buck. 1735). 

No. 24. 


The portion now occupied by Mrs. Alexander Milne. 

(See plan page 89). 

No. 25. 


Residence of the Misses Brookes. 
(See plan page 89). 



have beeu an inspiring one to those who fol- 

Odo did not carry a sword, because the laws 
of the Church forbade a priest to shed blood. 
But he wielded a heavy mace, and, when the 
right moment came, no doubt he used it pretty 
stoutly. He could not run his opponents 
through with a mace, but he probably did ser- 
ious damage to some of their skulls. 

It is recorded that at one moment of the 
battle, the Normans were getting the worst of 
it. The horsemen in retreating got into a 
fosse, or ditch, and rolled about, trampling up- 
on one another, and they were all a confused and 
struggling mass. Some of the Normans 
started to run away. Then up rode Bishop 
Odo, swinging his mighty mace, laying about 
him, and shouting reproof and encouragement 
to the bewildered Normans. He stayed the 
panic and probably saved the day. 

William was as good as his word. The Con- 
quest completed, he divided the land amongst 
his knights and nobles. Odo and Robert came 
in for most liberal rewards. Together with 
estates in other counties, Odo was given two 
hundred manors in Kent, that of Eltham being 
one of them, and he was given also the English 
title of Earl of Kent. He had immense power, 
too, in the government of the country. When 
William, a few years later, found it necessary 
to return to Normandy for a time, Odo ruled 
in his name. But he was so harsh and tyran- 
nical that the men of Kent rose against him, 
and sought aid from Eustace, Count of Bou- 

Ambition led to the fall of Odo, as it has to 
the ruin of other men. William found that 
his great Earls were getting a little too power- 
ful for him. So he took measures to keep their 
power within bounds. Some of them resented 
this, and scheming and plotting went on for 
resisting the will of the King. Odo was one of 
the schemers. He collected much money and 
men, making believe that he wanted to get 
himself made Pope. But William was too wide 
awake. He was not to be taken in. One day 
at Court, there was a surprise for Odo. The 
King was there and his courtiers all around. 
Quite unexpectedly William ordered the arrest 

of the Bishop. So taken back was everybody 
that no officer moved to carry out the King's 
command. They feared to touch a Bishop. So 
William walked up to Odo, and seized him with 
his own hands, exclaiming, with a grim laugh, 
" I arrest not the Bishop, but the 
Earl of Kent." And Odo was kept a prisoner 
till the Conqueror died. 

At the death of the King, William Eufus, his 
second son, as you know quite well, was given 
the crown. The Conqueror, at his death, let 
Odo out of prison, and Rufus allowed his uncle 
to be once more Earl of Kent. After a while 
the Norman barons rose against the Red King. 
They said that they wanted to make his 
brother Robert King, but their real object was 
to increase their own power and influence. Odo 
was their leader. It looked as if the cause of 
the King was hopeless. But the English stuck 
loyally to him, and, the pride of ambitious Odo 
suffered another shock. 

There was fighting in the north and the west, 
but Odo and his chief followers were at Roch- 
ester Castle, and William knew that if he 
wanted to crush out the revolt, he would have 
to march against his uncle at Rochester and 
destroy his power once and for all. So he 
gathered his fighting men round him in 
London, and the English came to his banner 
in force, for he promised to grant them good 
laws, to levy no unjust taxes, and to allow men 
the freedom of their woods and of hunting. 

In the short struggle that ensued, our hero 
Odo did not cut a very heroic figure. On hear- 
ing of the Red King's advance, he hastened to 
Pevensey, where he expected to meet his bro- 
ther Robert with additional troops from 
Robert of Normandy. But the Red King was 
too strong for them and Odo was obliged to 
give in. 

Then the King did a rather foolish thing. 
The English would have been glad to see Odo 
put to death. But Odo promised to get the 
surrender of Rochester Castle, and then to 
leave the country for good, if the King, his 
nephew, would let him go. So William sent 
him on to Rochester to make arrangements for 
its surrender. But it did not come off as was 
expected, and the unhappy Odo was placed in 



a rather awkward predicament. When he 
came near to the castle, and explained the cir- 
cumstances of his coming, the guards seized 
him and took him within the castle, and then 
said they would not give it up to the King. So, 
on the arrival of Eufus and his men, it was 
subjected to a siege. It was a considerable 
undertaking, and the King had to appeal to the 
English for more help. The Men of Kent res- 
ponded to the call, and those who refused were 
given the dreaded name of "nithing," which 
was the vilest name in the language. 

After a long siege, during which the garrison 
suffered from great sickness and privation, the 
castle surrendered, and when the prisoners 
were led out between the ranks of the royal 
troops, the English cried with a loud voice, 

" Halters ! Bring halters to hang up the 
traitor Bishop and his friends!" But the 
halters were not applied, and most of the 
rebels were spared execution. Many were 
banished from the country for ever. Among 
these was the Bishop of Bayeux. 

Such, then, briefly told, is the story of Odo, 
half brother of the King, and the Bishop of 
Bayeux, who, through the grace of his royal 
master, became possessed of the broad acres of 
Eltham, who amassed great wealth and used 
it wrongfully, who, by ambition, fell. When 
he went into exile, he passed out of the history 
of England. Few tears were shed, we may be 
sure. And it is not with much regret that we 
now dismiss him from the Story of Eltham. 


DEATH OF HAROLD (Bayeui Tapestry.) 



When William the Conqueror proceeded to 
distribute the English estates among his Nor- 
man Barons he used a certain amount of dis- 
cretion. He was anxious to win over to his 
side as many of the English nobility as he 
could, so he did not take away the estates of 
all of them. In districts where they were not 
particularly active in resisting William, many 
of the English nobles were allowed to keep 
their lands and manors. But in those quar- 
ters whence the bulk of the fighting men had 
come who had fought against him at Senlac, 
or who had subsequently opposed him in his 
conquest of England, William was heartless 
in his confiscations. Kent suffered especially. 
Not an English nobleman was allowed to re- 
tain his property in Kent. William had good 
reason for this. Kent was specially loyal to 
England and to Harold. So two hundred 
manors of Kent were given to Odo alone, and 
he ruled them with an iron hand. The Elt- 
ham Manor was allotted to Haimo, who held 
it under Odo. 

This Haimo was, for more reasons than one, 
a rather distinguished personage. In the first 

place he was a kinsman of the King himself. 
Although he could not claim so close a rela- 
tionship as Odo, the Earl and Prelate, who- 
was the King's half-brother, he could claim to 
have descended from the same old stock 
from that fierce Norse pirate, Eolf or Hollo, 
who was driven from his own land, Norway, 
as an outlaw, and who came to Normandy 
and founded the settlement there which after- 
wards became the Duchy, and of which Wil- 
liam was the Duke. So, you see, Haimo, the 
new Lord of Eltham, was of royal blood. 

And, otherwise, he was a very important 
man. He was the Shire Reeve of Kent. This 
was a very high office. In the old Saxon days 
the Reeve of the Shire was elected by the peo- 
ple, and, next to the Earldorman or Earl, he 
was the chief man in the County. But Haimo 
was appointed by the King, and it was his 
duty to preside, as the representative of the 
King, at the Shire Court or Leet, where he 
had to settle all sorts of disputes that were 
brought before him from among the people of 
the Shire. If he was unable to settle them 
to their satisfaction then they could take their 



disputes to the King. That was how some of 
the Courts of Law came to be formed, such as 
the King's Bench, Court of Common Pleas, &c. 
It must have been strange to have men who 
spoke a foreign tongue to do this kind of 
business, and it must have been the cause of a 
good deal of trouble in meting out justice. The 
Eltham churls, probably, did not much like 
having a lord over their manor who could 
not speak to them in their own language and 
who could not understand them when they 
wanted to speak to him. 

But it is very likely that these Norman 
Barons had very little to do with the English 
villagers. They held themselves aloof from 
them, and, perhaps, thought themselves quite 
superior to them. This feeling would be 
shared by the retainers and foreign servants 
who waited upon the Baron in his hall, and 
the lot of the Eltham villagers could not have 
teen so happy under Haimo as it was under 
Alwold, who was an Englishman and could 
speak their own tongue. Not that we have 
any reason to think that Haimo was particu- 
larly hard or tyrannical, though the Norman 
Barons did not bear a very good character in 
this respect. Haimo's own relative, Odo, for 
instance, has left behind him a very bad name. 
In his case " his evil deeds live after him," as 
Mark Anthony says in the play. But Haimo 
ould not have been quite the same sort of 
man as Odo. 

Odo was turned out of his Earldom by the 
King because of his wrong doings, but Haimo 
remained as Shire Eeeve until his death, 
which shows, at any rate, that the King never 
suspected him of being mixed up with the 
scheming and plotting which led to Odo's un- 
doing. So, as we cannot find out anything 
against Haimo, we may as well put him down 
as a straight-forward Lord of Eltham, al- 
though, being a foreigner, speaking a foreign 
language, and obliged to carry out the strict 
laws of the King, the simple Eltham folk 
could hardly like him well, especially as his 
presence always reminded them that they 
were a conquered people. 

One day, at the time when Haimo was 
the lord, there was commotion among the 

Eltham farmers. All the villans, as they 
were now called, were summoned to appear 
before the Hundred Court over at Blackheath, 
and there was no doubt a good deal of talk 
amongst them on the farm, or at the forge, or 
wherever they were in the habit of getting 
together for a gossip, as to the meaning of 
this summons. When they got to the Hun- 
dred Court, there they saw four stern looking 
persons, called commissioners, and near them 
were their clerks with quill pens, and ink, and 
parchment, all looking very wise, we may be 
sure, and ready to write down whatever they 
were told. Haimo was there, too, not only 
because he was Lord of Eltham, but because 
he was the Shire Reeve. There were also 
a number of folk from other Manors within 
the Hundred, priests too, and six villeins from 
each township. These farmers were not at all 
pleased to be called up in this way, and, on 
the quiet, there was a lot of grumbling going 
on amongst them. 

It was explained that at a great Council 
held at Winchester it was ordered by the 
King that commissioners with their clerks 
should be sent out into the shires, hundred by 
hundred, to make enquiries about the manors, 
and to set it all down in writing. So Haimo 
himself, and the " villans " from the Eltham 
Manor were made to take a solemn oath that 
they would tell the truth, and then the stern 
Norman lawyers questioned them about the 
estate, how much land it contained and what 
sort of land it was, how many men there were 
upon it, and what kind of men they were, 
what it was worth in Edward's time and what 
it was worth now, how many cattle and swine 
each freeman kept, whether the rents could 
be raised, and other questions besides. The 
villans had to give correct answers to these 
enquiries, whether they liked it or no. and the 
clerks worked away with their quill pens, set- 
ting it all lown " in black and white " as they 
say, just as the King had commanded. When 
one town-ship was done with, another town- 
ship was treated in the same way till the 
whole Hundred was completed, and so the 
Commisioners went on right through the 
other Hundreds of the County. The clerks 
wrote these things down upon separate scrolls 



or leaflets, and when they had finished them, 
they were taken away to Winchester, where 
other clerks copied them all out again, in a 
form that had been already arranged. 
That was how Domesday Book was made up. 

Yes! Englishmen regarded this as a grievous 
day. Deeply did they resent the humiliation 
of having to answer these searching questions. 
Bitter were the words used by the villagers 
against inquiry, although, perhaps, they were 
only muttered protests, for men feared to speak 
their minds aloud. An old writer of the times 
says: "It is a shame to tell what he thought it 
no shame for him to do. Ox, nor cow, nor 
swine, was left that was not set down upon hia 
writ." In some places men spoke their pro- 
tests loudly. There were disputes, which led 
to fighting and bloodshed. But it was of no 
avail to resist. The mailed fist of the 
Conqueror prevailed. By Easter Day, April 
5th, 1086, the day appointed as the time limit 
by the King, the work was finished, and Domes- 
day Book was added to our National Records. 

Domesday Book! The name seems very ap- 
propriate. " Men called the book Domesday," 
*ays a writer, " for to the English the inquest 
seemed searching, and terrible as that of the 
Last Judgment." 

We have styled Haimo, at the head of this 
chapter, as Shire Reeve, because that was tho 
old Anglo-Saxon name for the office which he 
filled. Now-a-days, we cut the name short and 
call the officer a Sheriff. The duties of the 
Sheriff of the present day are not the same as 
those of the olden time, but many of those 
duties are similar. The interesting point to 
bear in mind is that the office was really first 
established long ago in early Saxon times, and 
that the present High Sheriff of Kent is on the 
long roll of Sheriffs which included Haimo, 
the Lord of Eltham, and many other Shire 
Reeves before him. 

But in the Domesday page which refers to 
Eltham and to Haimo, he is not described as 
a " Shire Reeve." The word "Vicecomes," has 
been put in just above his name, which looks as 
if the clerk, in the first instance, omitted, the 
title, and that it was afterwards inserted. 
Domesday is written in Latin, and "Vicecomes " 

is merely the Latin equivalent of Shire Reeve. 
William found that the office of Shire Reeve in 
England so much resembled that of a "Vis- 
count " or " Vicecomes " in Normandy 
that he introduced the Norman title 
to England, and that is how it comes 
about that Haimo is described as " Vicecomes " 
in Domesday. You will notice, however, thai 
the old English name has survived after all, for 
we still call the important officer "Sheriff" and 
not "Viscount." Haimo seems to have lived 
to a good old age, for in the year 1111, forty-five 
years after the Norman Conquest, we read of 
his giving back to the Abbey of St. Augustine 
at Canterbury the remaining portion of the 
Manor of Fordwich. Haimo had a niece named 
Maud, or Mabel, and she married Robert Fitz 
Roy, Earl of Gloucester, who was a son of 
Henry I. When Haimo died his lands were in- 
herited by his niece, and that is how it came 
about that the Manor of Eltham, after Haimo's 
death, became one of the estates of the Earl of 
Gloucester, or, as the book tells us, "became ap- 
pended to the honour of Gloucester." 

We must now say good-bye to Haimo, for the 
hand of death has taken him out of our story. 
For many years the Eltham Manor was held 
by the Earl of Gloucester, and his descendants 
and heirs. A hundred years slip away, in 
the course of which there seems to have been 
a dispute as to whom the " vill," or 
village of Eltham rightly belonged. 

This dispute led to a legal inquiry and a 
scrutiny of the Rolls. This was in the seventh 
year of the reign of King Edward I. As a 
result of this scrutiny we get an account of 
Eltham at that particular time, which is so 
interesting that we may as well read it in 
the quaint language in which it was written. 
In reading it you would do well to read 
through the lines, as they say, and see if you 
can picture for yourselves, some of the con- 
ditions of life in our old village at that time. 

" Extent of the Manor of Eltham in the 
county of Kent made by precept of our Lord 
the King, on the death of Richard de Clare, 
formerly Earl of Gloucester and Hereford, be- 
fore William de Axmouth and William de 
Horseden thereto assigned. 



"By the oath of who say on 

their oath that in demesne there are 206 acres 
of arable land, of which 111 acres are worth 
4d. per acre; and the amount is 59s. 6d. 

"And they say that there are two acres of 
meadow worth 3s. per acre; and the amount 
6s. The pasture thereof, after the hay is 
carried, is extended (estimated) at 4d. 

"And they say that there are 13 acres of 
pasture extended at 4s. 6d. 

" The Court Lodge and the pasture of Court 
Lodge, and of a certain lane towards the 
church, are extended at 2s. 

"And there is a certain enclosed wood con- 
taining 200 acres, and the pasture thereof is 
extended at 20s., and the pannage thereof is 
extended at half a marc. 

" And they say that the sale of the under- 
wood is worth 57s. per annum. 

"The rent of the Free Holders (i.e., the quit 
rents) is extended at 24s. 9d. 

" And they say that in Villenage (i.e., the 
lord's land not cultivated by himself) there 
are 28J virgates of laud, and the fourth part 
of a virgate, and half an acre; and the virgate 
contains seven acres and a half, and the rent 
thereof is 71s. and 8^d. 

"And they say that the rent of the Cottera 
is 6s. 7Jd. The rent of certain tenants, who 
are called Plocmen (i.e., tenants holding by 
plough service) is extended at 3s. 5d. 

" And they say there are 245| acres which are 
let to the Villans of the new land, at the lord's 
will; and the rent thereof is four pound and 
twenty-three pence, at 4d. per acre. The 
works of the Villans are extended at 30s. Id. 

" And they say that the assised aid of the 
Villans is 18s. lid. per annum, &c., &c." 

Such was the Manor of Eltham in the year 
1263, when Edward I. reigned. This document 
reveals to us, in some degree, what life in 
our village was like, after the Normans had 
ruled for close upon a hundred years. If you 
will carefully read the national history of 
this eventful period, you will find it a pleasant 
exercise for your mind to consider what part 
the men of Eltham would in all likelihood 
have played in the national story. 

For a while we shall now leave the Manor 
to consider, in the next chapter, another relic 
of antiquity of equal, if not even greater, in- 

BATTLE OF HASTINGS (Bayeus Tapestry). 



To-day we will take our position here, with- 
in the shadow of the Parish Church, upon this 
little plot of ground where sleep the " fore- 
fathers of the hamlet." 

The Roman road over Shooter's-hill tells a 
story of life and strenuous activity through 
many centuries. " The Common " recalls the 
pastoral life and field labours of our distant 
ancestors. The crumbling palace speaks of 
royal pageants, of parliaments, of courtly 
festivals, and brilliant scenes of pomp and 
chivalry. They all tell of "life." This patch 
of greensward, with its mouldering mounds 
and monuments, has another tale to tell 
" Death." 

Often, perhaps, you have witnessed the 
solemn ceremony of burial here. It may be 
that many of you have taken part in that 
ceremony when someone near and dear has 
been laid to rest. The scene in which you took 
part was only one of a countless number, whose 
chain goes so far back into the ages that we 
cannot see the beginning. The one you lost 
was but a unit of a countless host, all sleeping 
here beneath the grass awaiting the great day. 

We cannot tell the age of Eltham Church- 
yard. We know of three churches, but it is 
probable that the churchyard is older than 
the most ancient of them. Those grave stones 
there are crumbling away with age. So old 
and weather-worn are they that you cannot 
read what was engraved upon them. When 
they were set up, long ago, all fresh and clean 
and new, and sorrowing villagers in quaint old 
world garb came to scan the epitaphs, the 
churchyard was still of age beyond reckoning. 

Such thoughts should make us pause when 
we enter these hallowed precincts pause, to 
reflect in seriousness, perhaps in awe. Care- 
less and flippant speech is out of place amid 
such surroundings. Our talk and deportment 
should be in harmony with the scene, lest we 
should seem to desecrate the abode of the dead. 

There was a church here in Norman times. 
It is the first about which we can find a record. 
We shall have something to say about it 
another day. But Eltham, even in Norman 
times, was still an old place. It was bound 
to possess its burial ground, and it may be 
assumed that it had its church long before the 
time when we find it first mentioned. It would 
have been a Saxon church and built of wood, 
as Saxon churches mostly were. 

You know what your history book tells you, 
how Hengist and Horsa and all the tribes of 
the Saxons were pagans, fierce and unyielding 
heathen, who lifted their heart and voice to 
the gods Wodin and Thor who assailed the 
Christian churches they found in Britain, 
burning them and killing the Christian priests. 
Christianity was quite strong amongst the 
British, before the Saxons came, and there 
were many churches in the land. 

Sometimes the Saxons spared a Christian 
church, and turned it into a heathen temple 
for their own use. It is said that the old 
church of St. Martin's, at Canterbury, was 
used in this way. But, in course of time, 
Augustine came and preached Christianity to 
the heathen Saxons, and even they were con- 
verted. Slowly, but surely, Christianity made 
its way among them. They ceased their wor- 



ship of Wodin and Tlior, and, in place of 
heathen temples, the village communities set 
up their little Christian churches. Such a 
building may have existed at Eltham before 
the church about which we have the earliest 
record, and to the little churchyard that sur- 
rounded it the early Eltham villagers would 
have brought their dead. 

In their heathen days it is said that the 
Saxons did not bury their dead in the vicinity 
of their temples, as we do now in the vicinity 
of a church. It was unlawful even to bury 
within the walls of their towns, and the dead 
were carried to the fields without. St. Cuth- 
bert, the great preacher and teacher of the 
north of England, is credited with being the 
first to obtain permission to have yards to the 
churches proper for the burial of the dead. 
So the churchyards of England may be re- 
garded as memorials of the famous Bishop of 
Lindisfarne, who lived as early as the seventh 

Let us now walk round our old churchyard 
and see what it has got to tell us. 

Some of those who remember the building of 
the present church will tell you that when the 
workmen were digging the foundations for the 
tower they came across a strange coffin made 
entirely of stone. It had been buried beneath 
the earth for so long a time that no engraving 
could be distinguished upon it, and the body 
which it had once contained had long since 
changed to dust. 

This coffin shews that the churchyard is very 
old, because the custom of using stone coffins 
has long since passed away. Such coffins 
were used in the Norman times, and right 
down through the middle ages. We may assume 
that it was the coffin of some rich person, 
for a poor person could hardly aSord such 
a form of burial in those old times. There was 
probably much pomp and ceremonial when it 
was committed to the earth. But that has all 
been forgotten. Even the name of the in- 
dividual is lost. Nought remains but the 
stone itself, which is built into the basement 
of the tower. 

There stands the old yew tree. It is not so 
large as some yew trees, but it has been grow- 

ing there many, many years, perhaps centuries. 
You will see it represented in the very oldest 
pictures of the old church. Yew trees grow 
very slowly, but they live to a great age. Some 
people say that they live longer than any 
other tree, and that in some churchyards the 
yew tree is nearly a thousand years old. Many 
generations have come and gone since this 
tree was a sapling. There used to be another 
yew tree on the other side of the church, but 
that died. It is thought to have been killed 
by the lime that was lying about when the 
new church was built. 

It would be a hard matter to find any old 
churchyard without a yew tree. People often 
wonder why they should have planted a yew 
tree in every churchyard in this way, and 
curiously enough, even those who have in- 
quired into the matter cannot agree as to the 

Some of them seem to think that, in the 
olden times, before guns were used, the yew 
was planted for the purpose of supplying wood 
for the making of the bows. It was planted 
in the churchyard because it was fenced round, 
and the cattle would be thus prevented from 
getting at the yew and eating it, for it is 
poisonous. But, from all accounts, it would 
appear that other woods were used for the 
same purpose, and that when yew was used, 
it was generally Spanish yew, and not English 
yew, which "was of inferior goodness." An 
old statute of the eighth year of Elizabeth 
requires " each bowyer always to have in his 
house fifty bows made of elm, witch, hazel, 
or ash." By an older act of Edward IV., we 
find that "every Englishman was obliged to 
have a bow in his house of his own length, 
either of yew, witch, ash, or auburn " (pro- 
bably alder). 

Another writer says that "the venerable 
yew trees still to be seen in our churchyards 
were planted for the purpose of furnishing 
palms for Palm Sunday, which, he thinks, were 
simply branches of yew trees." He holds to this, 
he tells us, " from the fact of those in the 
churchyards of East Kent being to this day 
universally called palms." 


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From the North. 1870. 

No 39. 

The Royal Arms, on the left, are now preserved in Rochester Museum. 



Another student of the subject does not agree 
with this. He " looks upon the yew as being 
too funereal to be substituted for the joyful 
palm." He rather thinks that the solitary 
yew is a relic of the times when many more 
trees existed round the church " for protect- 
ing the fabric of the church from storms." 
He refers us to a law of Edward I., "whereby 
leave was given to fell trees in churchyards for 
building and repairs," and the yew trees 
"would be the only trees left standing as un- 
fit for such purposes," and thereafter he thinks 
"an evergreen would be thought an emblem of 
the resurrection, and even acquire some degree 
of regard and veneration." 

There was a time when the yew was much 
used on the occasion of funeral ceremonies, 
and other writers suggest that it might have 
been planted in the churchyards to meet needs 
of this kind. There is a quaint old rhyme, 
which runs thus: 

"Yet strewe 
Upon my dismall grave, 
Such offerings as you have, 
Forsaken cypresse and sad yew, 
For kinder flowers can take no birth 
Or growth from such unhappy earth." 

In another old book, printed nearly three 
hundred years ago, and called "The Marrow 
of Complements," we get this sad lay, " A 
Mayden's Song for her dead Lover," which 
shews that the yew, like the cypress was re- 
garded as a funeral plant 


"Come you whose loves are dead, 
And whilst I sing, 
Weepe and wring 
Every hand, and every head. 

Bind with Cypresse and sad Ewe, 
Ribbands black and candles blue; 
For him that was of men most true. 


"Come with heavy moaning, 
And on his Grave 
Let him have 
Sacrifice of Sighes and Groaning, 

Let him have faire Flowers enough, 
White and Purple, Green and Yellow. 
For him that was of Men most true." 

These lines are very quaint, and, perhaps, the 
expressions seem to our ears a little emotional 
and extravagant, but they serve to illustrate 
the fact that the yew was used for funereal 
purposes to express sadness. 

The antiquarian, Sir Thomas Browne, in 
writing of the use of evergreens at funeral* 
suggests, " that the planting of yew trees m 
churchyards derives its origin from ancient 
funeral rites," and conjectures, "from its per- 
petual verdure, that it was used as an emblem 
of the resurrection." 

The mysterious yew in the churchyard, you 
will therefore notice, has been the cause of 
much thought and inquiry by learned men. 
But they cannot agree as to the reason of it 
presence. There it stands lonely, silent, 
sphinx-like, keeping its own secret. We shall 
probably never know the truth of it all. 

The lich-gate there, at the entrance to the 
churchyard from the street, is not old. It is- 
quite modern, so far as its construction is con- 
cerned. But the lich-gate, as an institution, is 
very ancient. Its name sugests that. It is- 
Anglo-Saxon, and means, literally, " corpse- 
gate." It is only opened on the occasion of 
funerals, and it is said to hare been the 
ancient custom foj the corpse to rest there for 
a while, during the reading of the sentences 
at the beginning of the burial services. 

PAUL'S CROSS (from an old Print). 



The handsome Cross which was erected only 
a few years ago to the memory of an Eltham 
resident whose name will be long remembered 
here, like the Lich-gate to which we alluded 
last week, is of quite modern construction. 

But a cross of this kind, whether it be 
ancient or modern, is a feature of special in- 
terest, because it points to a custom which was 
common in the middle ages, a custom which 
was so closely associated with national life 
that it needed an Act of Parliament to kill it. 

There was a time, when, as an able writer 
tells us, " the face of the land bristled with 
crosses." Sometimes they were set up near 
the south door of the church. Very often they 
were in the market places of the villages and 
towns. Frequently they were by the wayside. 
Sometimes they were simple of construction; 
often thsy were elaborate and very beautiful. 

Comparatively speaking, onlj a few of the 
original crosses are now to be found. Pro- 

bably you will come across most relics of 
them in districts remote from London. In 
Somerset and Dorset, and in Cornwall, for in- 
stance, it is quite a common thing to find the 
broken remains of these old stone crosses in 
the villages. 

In some places, men who have a deep regard 
for the past history of our national life are 
having these old crosses restored. We read in 
the papers, not long ago, that a model of the 
notable one which used to stand in St. Paul's 
Churchyard, and was known in history ac 
" Paul's Cross," will shortly be built upon the 
well-known spot. It is a good plan to do this 
kind of thing. Though such crosses can never 
have quite the same significance to the present 
generation as they had to our forefathers, it 
is good to have, before our eyes, such eloquent 
reminders of the past. 

So we will take this modern cross in Eltham 
Churchyard as the excuse for our talk to-day. 



Let us see if we can in some measure realise 
the part which the village cross played in the 
life of those old times. And, let us see if we 
can find any direct evidence that Eltham itself 
possessed a village cross of its own. 

You know that the early Christians adopted 
the cross as the emblem of the Christian 
faith, and it was used by the first preachers 
and teachers to remind men that the founder 
of that faith was Christ the Crucified. 

The earliest missionaries used to set up 
crosses where they preached, that the natives 
might be always reminded of their teaching. 
" We are told that St. Wilfred, who was Arch- 
bishop of York at the beginning of the eighth 
century, travelled about his diocese with a 
large body of monks and workmen attending 
him, amongst whom were cutters in stone, who 
made crosses and erected them on the spots 
which St. Wilfred consecrated to the worship 
of God." 

So you see that in the first instance, the 
cross was intended to fulfil a religious pur- 

There were many kinds of crosses, such 
as memorial crosses, churchyard or preaching 
crosses, market and village crosses, weeping 
ciosses, pilgrim crosses, and boundary crosses. 

The best examples of memorial crosses are 
those that are left of that line of crosses 
erected by Edward I., in memory of Queen 
Eleanor. Only three of the original 
nine or twelve now exist, namely, at Gedding- 
too, Northampton and Waltham. Crosses 
of this kind were usually erected by the way- 
side, or in a city, town or village, to com- 
memorate some memorable circumstance. 
Those mentioned marked the resting place of 
the funeral procession which brought the re- 
mains of the Queen from the North to 

" Preaching crosses " were generally set up 
in churchyards, and very often near the south 
door of the church. From their steps, preach- 
ing friars frequently addressed the people. 

" Market crosses " were usually erected in 
the market place of the village or towa. They 
were often elaborate in construction, having 

arches and vaulted structures, sometimes of 
great size. " Often on market and fair days, 
a preaching friar would address the people 
from the market cross, reminding them of the 
sacredness of their bargains, and telling both 
buyers and sellers to be true and just in all 
their dealings." 

" The village cross " was found generally 
on the village green, and was of more simple 
construction. Not far from it was the may- 
pole, and, very often, the village stocks. From 
the village cross, public proclamations were 
made, banns of marriage were published and 
tolls and market dues collected. 

" Boundary crosses " marked the limits of 
parishes and manors, and owing to the super- 
stitious reverence with which they were re- 
garded in the middle ages, they were rarely 
tampered with. 

" Weeping crosses " were put up for the use 
of those who were called upon to do penance 
for their wrongdoing. 

"Pilgrim cresses" were erected by the side 
of the highways. They served as guide-post* 
to the different monasteries, oratories, and 
other religious foundations. Sometimes a 
rich traveller would deposit alms at the foot of 
a " pilgrim cross," for the help of the poor 
distressed wayfarer who might be coming 

From this brief description of the crosses- 
that were common in those old times, we may 
discern in some degree the part which they 
played in the social life of Jhe times, and the 
question naturally arises to one's mind did 
Eltham possess any such cross a,s one cf these, 
and, if it did, where did it stand and what has- 
become of it ? 

There does not seem to be any relic of an 
old cross, either in the churchyard or in the 
village, nor does one hear of any tradition of 
such a cross. Curiously enough, evidence ha 
just recently come to light, from an unex- 
pected quarter, which bears out one's natural 
suspicion that one of these mediaeval crosses 
must have existed at some time in such an his- 
torical village as Eltham. 



The well-known antiquarian, Mr. Leland L. 
Duncan, has been making researches, for the 
St. Paul's Ecclesiological Society and the Kent 
Archseological Society, amongst the " wills " 
of persons who died in the County of Kent in 
ancient times. Copies of these curious wills 
have been made and printed, and amongst 
them are quite a number relating to persons 
who have been buried in our Parish Church or 
churchyard of St. John the Baptist. 

Two of these wills allude, incidentally but, 
most distinctly, to Crosses one at Shooter's- 

been written then, and people had a sort of 
free and easy way of spelling, which would not 
be tolerated in our enlightened days. 

This is the will of one Roger Leche, and it is- 
dated 1517. Good Master Leche would have 
been alive when Henry VII. was king. He would 
have been at Eltham when handsome Prince 
Harry was crowned. He might have been a 
witness of those gay May-day festivals which 
the young King Henry VIII., organised in th 
woods of Shooter's Hill. We cannot be sure, 
but we do know that he left sufficient property 


hill and the other in Eltham itself. The 
Shooter's-hill cross may, in all probability, 
have been a " Pilgrim Cross," for the Old 
Dover road was the highway from London to 
Canterbury, and could have been used by the 
many pilgrims to the tomb of St. Thomas 
Becket in the Cathedral city. The Eltham 
cross might have been a " market cross," or 
a " village cross." One cannot tell. It will 
be a nice problem for those interested in 
lore of this kind to try and solve. 

But let us read the wills referred to. You 
must not be shocked by the bad spelling. 
Doctor Johnson's dictionary, which first laid 
down how words should be spelled, had not 

CHEAP-SIDE (from an old Print). 

to bring in yearly two separate sixpences to be 
expended upon bread and ale for the poor. 
Truly, a considerate man was Master Eobert 
Leche. Thes9 are his words: 

" I will Rauff Letham shall kepe or cause 
to be kept yerly the Wedynsday in the crosse 
weke at the erase before his dur when the 
procession cw'myth in brede and ale vjd, and 
vpon Seint Thomas nyght after the fest of 
Seint John Baptyst at the bonefyre in brede 
and ale vjd. Roger Leche, 1517." 

What a light this quaint will throws upon the 
social life of the period ! We could spend much 
time in pondering over the old time customs 
which it refers to "the procession," the distri- 



bution of "bread and ale," and particularly to 
the "bonfire" at the time of the feast of "St. 
John the Baptist." Another day, we may have 
something to say upon some of these features 
of the life and customs of old Eltham. 

To-day we are more interested with the 
"cross before the door" of Rauff Letham. Who 
was Rauff Letham? Whereabouts in Eltham 
did he live? And the cross which stood in 
front of his door, was it the Market Cross? 
Was it an ordinary village cross? Did the chil- 
dren play upon its steps? Did a poor mendi- 
cant priest occasionally preach from those 
steps to the gaping rustics, or for the edifica- 
tion of the stable men from the Palace, or even 
for the soul's welfare of Rauff Letham himself, 
who looked out upon the scene from his own 
respectable doorway? Rauff was a respectable 
man, or, is it at all likely that good master 
Roger Leche would have entrusted him with 
the responsible duty of distributing every year 
two separate sixpences in " brede and ale?" 
Did Rauff collect the market tolls at the Cross? 
There does not seem to be any record left of 
the life and doings of this man Rauff Letham. 
But we are quite sure, now, that there was a 
Cross standing in front of his door, and it would 
be worth more than " two sixpences " to know 
where in Eltham that doorway was. 

We will now look at the other " will." It is 
that of John Browne, gentleman, and it was 
signed in 1533. That was just about the time 
when Henry VIII., who often came to Eltham 
Palace, was making up his mind to shake off 
the authority of the Pope and set up himself 
as head of the Church. It is quite likely that 
Master John Browne, gentleman, was an oia 
Elthamite, who had seen the great Cardinal 
Wolsey, or the great Chancellor, Sir Thomas 
More, or the scholar Erasmus, at one time or 
another, on the occasion of their visits to 
Eltliam. Master Browne lived in stirring 

Here is the extract from his will. Let us 
read it: 

"I will that John and Antony my gonnes 
and Sir Edward, William Bowen, and their 
heires or to whose handes or possession the 
foresaid landes and tenements doo com, dis- 

cent, sale or otherwise enjoye the same that 
they and their heires shall every yere yerely 
for ever more fynde or cause to be founde 
alweys yerely upon Tewesday in the Rogacion 
weke at the Procession tyme at the Cross 
vpon Shoters Hill a fyrkyu of Ale, xijd. in 
bred to be disposed and gyven amonge pour 
people coming wt the same procession and 
also shall geve and paye vnto the preest then 
reding the gospell, jd. and the clerk there 
being jd. John Browne, gent., 1533." 

You will notice that Master Browne was lib- 
eral with his ale, giving as much as a firkin, 
which is, nowadays, nine gallons. Twelve 
pence was also spent in bread for the poor. But 
the priest who had to attend the procession to 
the Cross at Shooter's Hill, there to read the 
Gospel, and the faitlful Parish Clerk who fol- 
lowed at his heels, had to be satisfied each with 
a penny for their services. We may hope, how- 
ever, that they had a reasonable share of the 

But the point of this will which interests us 
most, at the moment, is the allusion to the 
"Cross at Shooter's Hill." From these old 
documents, only recently unearthed, we may 
therefore learn that mediaeval crosses, of some 
sort, actually existed in Eltham, though, unfor- 
tunately, they have been destroyed. 

How came they to be destroyed, you will ask? 

It was done by an ordinance of Parliament 
in the year 1643. 

" Die Lunse 28 August! 1643. 
" An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons, 
assembled in Parliament, for the utter de- 
molishing, removing, and taking away of 
all monuments of Superstition or Idolatry 
out of all Churches and Chapells and Open 
Places, within the Kingdom of England 
and Dominion of Wales. 
" Before the 1st November, 1643." 

It was ordained that this destruction should 
be carried out within the period of some three 
months. "It was further ordained that all and 
every such removal, taking away, and defacing 
such crucifixes and crosses as aforesaid should 
be done at the expense of the Churchwardens 
of every such parish for the time being respec- 



tively, and in the case of default for the space 
of 21 days after the said 1st day of November, 
1643, under a penalty of 40s. to the use of the 
poor of the said Parish, and if default should 
be made after the 1st day of December, 1643, 
then the destruction was done by the Justice of 
the Peace, and the Churchwardens had to pay 
the cost. Poor Churchwardens! 

It would seem that the Churchwardens did 
the work effectively in Eltham. "Paul's 
Cross " was destroyed at the same time, as well 
as thousands of others. In the western 
counties, however, the ordinance appears to 
have been only partially carried out. Many of 
the village crosses were defaced, but not 
destroyed entirely. When we read of this wide- 
spread destruction, in these days, we wonder 
at its severity, perhaps, and we appreciate the 
words of John Euskin, when he deplores the 
loss of the beautiful examples of early architec- 

ture. "The feudal and monastic buildings of 
Europe," he writes, " and still more the streets 
of her ancient cities, are vanishing like dreams; 
and it is difficult to imagine the mingled envy 
and contempt with which future generations 
will look back to us, who still possessed such 
things, yet made no effort to preserve and 
scarcely any to delineate them." 

So has it been with the beautiful examples 
of mediaeval crosses which once were an orna- 
ment to our land. They can never be replaced. 
" Paxil's Cross," new and spick and span, how- 
ever closely it may be made to resemble its 
predecessor, can never speak to us with the 
voice of the one that was so ruthlessly 
destroyed. But it will be good to see it there. 
So we value this new Cross in Eltham church- 
yard, for it not only serves as a monument to 
a good man, but it reminds us of another age, 
and of social life and associations of our village 
which might otherwise be forgotten. 



There ia at least one old churchyard custom 
that has not died out. It is that of placing 
flowers upon the graves. There they lie, some 
of them choice and costly flowers, many of 
them simple flowers from the cottage garden, 
but all placed there by loving hands for 

The practice interests us to-day because it is 
of ancient origin. It is to be associated with 
the earliest days of Christianity, and it has 
been practised in varying degrees, by Eltham 
people, through the long centuries of this 
churchyard's existence. 

As early as the fourth century we have an 
allusion to this custom of putting flowers upon 
graves in a funeral oration of St. Ambrose, one 
of the Fathers of the Latin Church. "I will 
not sprinkle his grave with flowers," he says, 
"but pour on his spirit the odour of Christ. 
Let others scatter baskets of flowers: Christ is 
our Lilly, and with this I will consecrate his 

Then, again, St. Jerome, of about the same 
period, in the Epistle to Pammachius upon 
the death of his wife, says. " While other hus- 
be.nds strewed violets, roses, lillies and purple 
flowers upon the graves of their wives, and 
comforted themselves with such-like offices, 
Pammachius bedewed her ashes and venerable 
bones with the balsam of Alms." 

An old writer, referring to this ancient prac- 
tice, in England and especially in Wales and 
the West, says: 

" None but sweet-scented flowers or ever- 
greens are allowed to be planted upon graves; 
such as pink and polyanthus, sweet-william, 

gill flower, and carnation; while mignonette, 
thyme hyssop, camomile, and rosemary, com- 
plete the pious decoration. The turnsole, 
peony, African marigold, anemone, and others, 
though beautiful, are excluded for their want 
of odour. Sometimes, however, the tender cus- 
tom is perverted into satire; and where per- 
sons have been distinguished for their pride, 
vanity, or other unpopular quality, the neigh- 
bours whom they have offended, plant these 
also by stealth. The white rose is confined to 
the maiden's tomb; and the red denotes the 
grave of one distinguished for goodness, espec- 
ially for benevolence of character. 

" In Easter week," he continues, " the graves 
are generally newly dressed and manured with 
fresh earth. At Whitsuntide, or rather dur- 
ing the preceding week, the graves are again 
attended to, and, if necessary, replanted. A 
popular saying of those who employ themselves 
in this office of regard for departed friends is, 
that they are cultivating their own freeholds; 
explained by the fact that the nearest relations 
of the deceased invariably work with their 
own hands, never by servants or hired labour. 
Should a neighbour assist, he or she never 
expects remuneration; indeed, the offar would 
be resented as an insult." 

Much more could be said about this beauti- 
ful old practice of putting flowers upon the 
graves of our friends, and many allusions to it 
could be gathered from the poets of the past. 
But we have said enough to show its antiquity, 
and to help us to realise, that in our practice 
of it to-day, we are doing what those before us 
have done for centuries. 



Let us now consider some of those church- 
yard customs which no longer exist. Yes, ther 
is the Church Clock striking the hour, and a 
very convenient thing it is to have a clock in 
the church tower to give us the time of day. 
Our forefathers had to content themselves 
with a sundial, and the Churchyard was the 
place where the village sundial was nearly 
always kept. 

Eltham had its sundial, for in the Church- 
warden's accounts, we find the following 
entry : " 1572. Received from Sir John Car- 
nicke, Vicar, to wards making of the dialle of 
his own' free gifts, iijs." 

You may see these old-fashioned denoters of 
the hour in many an old village churchyard, 
even in the present day. They are most com- 
monly placed upon the south wall of the 
church, though sometimes they stand upon a 
pedestal away from the building. The Eltham 
sundial no longer exists. 

But, the Churchyard has been the scene of 
practices, in the far away past, which we 
Bhould regard in those days, as rather strange, 
and, some of them, even shocking. There are 
records which show that in the early English 
days, and even at a latter time, the Church- 
yard was used as a sort of Court of Justice. 

"What better place than this," writes Mr. 
John Nicholson, " could be found in the whole 
township for the hearing of disputes and the 
settling of cases ? Here, the bishop sat with 
the sheriff, the clerics were lawyers, where 
oaths could be taken on everything that was 
holy, and round which all a man's sacred 
associations clustered. The churchyard was 
a court of justice; but in later times, the 
ecclesiastical authorities discouraged the hold- 
ing of secular pleas in churches and church- 

"In 1287," continues the same writer, " a 
synod held at Exeter, said, ' Let not secular 
pleas be held in Churchyard?,' but as late as 
1472, we find from the York Fabric Rolls, that 
at Helmsley and Stamfordbiig, all the par- 
ishicners there hold pleas and other temporal 
meetings in the Church and Churchyard." 

Such proceedings as these seem strange to us 
now. But we will notice now some that were 

discreditable. Though there does not seem fo 
be any documentary evidence that these things 
occurred in our churchyard, there is no great 
reason for thinking that Eltham would have 
been different from other villages in this 

The great Church festivals were strictly ob- 
served in old days, and it should be remem- 
bered that the Church was the great centre at 
which people congregated on such "holy- 
days." These " holy-days," were really and 
truly " holi-days," and it seems that traders 
of all sorts used to assemble in the church- 
yards for the purpose of doing business with 
the people who thronged up to worship. 

" At these gatherings," we are told, " dealers 
in all kinds of goods appeared on the scene, 
spread their wares on the tombstones, and 
could with difficulty be kept out of the sacred 
edifice itself. Their noisy shouting, the as- 
semblage of pleasure seekers, and the tumult 
attending such gatherings, interfered seriously 
with the Divine worship proceeding inside the 

A record, dating 1416, referring to a north- 
country parish, states: "The parishioners 
say that a common market of vendibles is held 
in the Churchyard on Sundays and holidays, 
and divers things, and goods, and rushes are 
exposed there for sale, and horses stand over 
the bodies of the dead there buried, and defile 
the graves, to the great dishonour and mani- 
fest hindrance of Divine worship, on account 
of the clamour of those who stand about." 

With so much disregard for the sacredness of 
the place it is not surprising that the Church- 
yard became a sort of public playground. The 
instructions issued to the clergy by the Synod 
of Exeter, to which we have already referred, 
gives us some idea of the prevailing state of 
affairs at the time. It proceeds thus : 

" We strictly enjoin our parish priests that 
they publicly proclaim in their Churches, that 
no one presume to carry on combats, dances or 
other improper sports in the Churchyards, 
especially on the eves of the feasts of saints; 
or stage plays or farces, by which the honour 
of the churches is defiled and sacred ordin- 
ances despised." 



Yet another record says: "It is ordered; 
by the consent of the parishioners, that no one 
use improper and prohibited sports within the 
Churchyard, as, for example, wrestling, foot- 
ball, and hand-ball, under penalty of two- 

"The Whitsun Ales," or "Church Ales" as 
they were called, were a curious custom initi- 
ated for a good purpose, but ultimately so 
abused that they can be fairly described as dis- 
graceful. They were so general, and so usually 
connected with churchyards, that we must 
allude to them here; and they were so charac- 
teristic a feature of English village life, that 
the story of Eltham would not be complete 
without some notice of them. 

The name " Ale " does not here refer to that 
well-known drink which has always been so 
palatable to Englishmen, even from the time 
when they dwelt in their stockaded villages 
upon the shores of the Baltic. The word 
really means "festival." Shakespeare uses it 
in this sense: 

" On ember days, and holy ales." 

Pericles I. Introduction. 

Near to the church there used to etand a 
curious building called a " church-house." 
There is probably none of these in existence 
now. They have long since passed away, and 
are only met witii in churchwardens' ac- 
counts. The "church-house" was a large 
building in which could be stored wood, lime, 
timber, and other articles, and it was often 
let to pedlars, or wandering merchants, to de- 
posit their goods during the fair. 

Within it was a long low room with a large 
fireplace and hearth, and down the centre of 
the room was a large oak table. Here it was 
that our ancestors established the head- 
quarters of the "ale," the centre of village 
festivities, which were celebrated, sometimes, 
as often as four times in the year. 

The antiquarian, Aubrey, has described a 
"church-house" in the following words: 

" In every parish was a church-house, to 
which belonged spits, crocks, and other uten- 
sils for dressing provisions. Here the house- 
keepers met. The young people were there 

too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at 
butts, &c., the ancients sitting gravely by, and 
looking on." 

An old writer has left us a pretty full ac- 
count of how a "church ale" was conducted. 
So we will have the description in his own 
words : 

In certaine townes where dronken Bacchus 
beares swaie, against Christmas and Easter, 
Whitsondaie, or some other tymne, the 
churche-wardeus of every parishe, with (he 
consent of the whole parishe, provide half-a- 
score or twenty quarters of mault, whereof 
some they buy of the church stocke, and some 
is given them of the parishioners themselves, 
every one conferring somewhat, according to 
his abilitie; which maulte being made into 
very s-trong ale or beere, is set to sale, either in 
the church or some other place assigned to 
that purpose. 

"Then when this is set abroche, well is he 
that can gette the soonest to it, and spend the 
most at it. In this kind of practice they con- 
tinue sixe weekes, a quarter of a yeare, yea, 
halfe a yeare together. That money, they say, 
is to repaire their churches and chapells with, 
to buy bookos for service, cuppes for the cele- 
bration of the Sacrament, surplesses for St. 
John, and such other necessaries. And they 
maintaine other extraordinarie charges in 
their parish besides." 

More details of the doings of the "Whitsun- 
ale" are left by another old writer. 

"Two persons are chosen," he writes, "pre- 
viously to the meeting to be lord and lady of 
the 'ale'; who dress as suitably as Hiey can 
to the character they assume. A large empty 
barn or some such building, is provided for the 
lord's hall, and fitted up with seats to accom- 
modate the company. Here they assemble to 

dance and regale The lord 

p.nd lady honour the hall with their presence, 
attended by steward, sword-bearer, purse- 
bearer, and mace-bearer, with their several 
badges and ensigns of office. They have, like- 
wise, a train-bearer or page, and a fool or 
jester, drest in a party-coloured jacket. . . . 
The lord's music, consisting of a pipe and 
tabor, is employed to conduct the dance." 



From a sermon preached by one William 
Kethe, on the 17th January, 1570, we find that 
it was the custom at that time for the 
"church-ale" to be kept oil the Sabbath Day, 
which holy-day, said the preacher, "the multi- 
tude call their revelying day, which day is 
spent in bulbeating, beare-beating, bowlings, 
dyeyng, cardying, daunsyuge?, drunkennes, 
and other sinnes, in so much, as men could not 
keep their servauntes from lyinge out of theyr 
owne houses the same sabbath day at night." 

It is not to be wondered at that " Church 
Ales" fell into disrepute and ultimately were 
discontinued altogether. It is hard to believe 
that such practices could hare gone on in our 
village churchyards. But our ancestors prob- 
ably satisfied their conscience by the know- 
ledge that the proceeds of these entertainments 
went to the benefit of the parish, sometimes 
for the maintenance of the church, sometimes 
for the relief of the poor. There is at least 

one record which shows that in a Wiltshire 
village, Kingston St. Michael, the proceeds of 
the "Whitsun Ale," enabled the parish to do 
without a " poor rate" ! 

Such, then, were some of the scenes which 
our churchyard witnessed in other days. We 
may take credit to ourselves, that the making 
of " God's Acre" a place for merchandise is 
quite out of harmony with our modern ideas 
of the respect and reverence due to such a 
locality, and that the scenes which often ac- 
companied the holding of "Whitsun Ales" 
would be repulsive even to the callous minded 
of the present generation. 

So our churchyard speaks to us, whispering 
of the ancient dead which it embraces, and, if 
we will take the pains to interpret its message, 
revealing to us many aspects of the daily life 
of our ancestors which, now, seem strange and 



We are all familiar with the ceremony of 
burial as it is performed now, so impressive in 
its simplicity and solemnity. Many of the cus- 
toms connected with that ceremony are of great 

For instance, there is the custom of following 
the corpse, in procession, to the grave. This 
is of ancient origin, and is said to have been 
practised by the heathen. An ancient writer 
says : 

"In burials, the old Rite was that the ded 
Corps was borne afore, and the people folowed 
after, as one should saie we shall dye and 
folowe after hym, as their laste woordes to the 
corpse did pretende. For thei used too saie, 
when it was buried, on this wise, farewell, wee 
come after thee, and of the folowyng of the 
multitude thei were called Exequies." 

Another writer says: "The Christian obser- 
vance of the custom is founded upon the same 
reason as the heathen; and as this form of pro- 
cession is an emblem of our dying shortly after 
our friend, so the carrying in our hands of ivy, 
sprigs of laurel, rosemary, and other ever- 
greens, is an emblem of the soul's immortal- 

Then there is the custom of dressing in black 
at funerals. This too, is of very early origin, 
although the custom was not universal. 

" Black," wrote the " Athenian Oracle," " ig 
the fittest emblem of that sorrow and grief the 
mind is supposed to be clouded with; and as 
Death is the privation of Life, and Black a pri- 
vation of Light, it is very probable this colour 
has been chosen to denote sadness, upon that 
account; and accordingly this colour has, for 
mourning, beeu preferred by most people 

throughout Europe. The Syrians, Cappa- 
docians, and Armenians use sky-colour, to de- 
note the place they wish the dead to be in, 
that is, the Heavens; the Egyptians yellow, or 
fillemot, to shew that as herbs being faded be- 
come yellow, so Death is the end of human 
hope; and the Ethiopians grey, because it re- 
sembles the colour of the earth, which receives 
the dead." 

As evidence that "black" was not altogether 
general even in heathen times, Polydore 
Vergil refers to Plutarch thus: "Plutarch 
writeth that the women in their mournyng laid 
aparte all purple, gold, and sumptuous apparell, 
and were clothed, bothe they and their kins- 
folk, in white apparel, like as then the ded 
body was wrapped in white clothes. The white 
coloure was thought fittest for the ded, because 
it is clere, pure, and sincer, and least defiled. 
Of this ceremonie, as I take it, the French 
Queues toke occasion, after the death of their 
housebandes the Kyuges, to weare only white 
clothyng, and, if there bee any such widdowe, 
she is commonly called the White Quene. 
Mournyng garments for the moste part be 
altogether of blacke colour, and they are to 
wear them a whole yere continually, onlesse it 
bee because of a generall triumphe or rp- 
joysyng, or newe magistrate choosyng, or else 
when thei bee toward marriage." 

If you peruse the wills of those who have been 
buried in or about our Parish church, you 
will find frequent allusions to "lights" and 
"tapers" in association with their burial. For 
instance : 

In 1468, Richard Tottnam left provision for 
21bs. of wax, and also for a torch to burn be- 
fore the image of St. John the Baptist. 



In the same year William Goffe left 8d. each 
towards four lights in the church. 

In 1477, John Frances, yeoman, provided for 
two tapers of 81bs. each. 

In 1484, John Adene, husbandman, not only 
left 8d. to the light attached to the great beam 
before the Crucifix, but he also made provision 
for a torch of 8s. to burn in the Church of 
Eltham, around the bodies of six dead parish- 

In 1519 Ralf Wotton left means for his wife 
Joan to burn a taper before the image of St. 
Christopher during her life time, and to deliver 
to the churchwardens enough to continue the 
same for ever. 

These are but a few instances. Many more 
might be found were it necessary. They refer 
to the old custom of lights at burials, which 
has now practically died out. The custom was 
intended as a mark of honour to the dead, and 
to have a great number of such lights was a 
apecial mark of honour. The torches and the 
wax to make them were usually provided by the 
churchwardens, and the sale of these articles 
was a source of profit to the church. 

The antiquary, Brand, commenting upon this 
practice, says: 

"The custom of using torches and lignts at 
funerals, or in funeral processions, seems to be 
of long standing. The Romans anciently solem- 
nised their funerals at night with torches, to 
give notice of their approach, so that they 
might not come in the way of their magistrates 
and priests, whose sanctity was supposed to be 
violated by the sight of a corpse, insomuch 
that an expiatory sacrifice was required to 
purify them before they could perform their 
sacred functions. In later times public 
funerals were celebrated in the day time, not 
without the addition of torches, private fun- 
erals continuing to be restricted to the night. 

" Coming down to Christian times," he con- 
tinues, " the learned Gregory maintains the 
harmless import of candles, as shewing that 
the departed souls are not quite put out, but, 
having walked on earth as children of the 
light, are now gone to walk before God in the 
light of the living." 

The practice of " lights" is still carried out 
in the Eoman Catholic churches in England, 
but in the Church of England the custom has- 
died out. 

In the earliest days of Eltham, the method 
of interment was somewhat different from that 
used at the present day. In the Christian 
period of Anglo-Saxon times, they did not use 
coffins of wood, which, are a fashion of the 
last few centuries, but resorted to the 
simple process of wrapping the corpse in 
linen. Thus concealed, it was carried to the 
grave by two persons, one of them holding the 
head, the other the feet. The body was then 
" censed " by the priest, who offered up prayers 
and benedictions while it was being lowered 
into the grave. 

On the occasion of the burial of an important 
person, the ceremonial was more imposing. The 
priests would attend in a body, and sing hymns 
while walking solemnly in procession. 

We may rightly imagine such scenes as these 
in the early history of Eltham, for, as we have 
already said, there is every probability that 
this ancient churchyard existed as a burial 
ground long before the Anglo-Saxon period of 
history came to an end. 

In later centuries, stone coffins were some- 
times used for those who could afford them. As 
we have already pointed out, a coffin of this 
kind was actually found when the builders were 
digging for the foundations of the present 
church. It is built into the wall at the base- 
ment of the tower, and is visible just inside tnn 
south door, on the right hand side. Tou may 
identify it by the large stone cross which had 
been engraven upon it. 

Then it was customary, in olden times, to 
bury within the church itself. In many of the 
wills of Eltham people who died in ancient 
days, we find instructions for their burial in 
the church. 

Henry Shylman, 1526, wished to be buried 
"in the chauncell of the parish church of 
Saynt John Baptist in Eltham." 

Sir Philip Carrok, 1527, left instructions that 
he was to be buried "in the Church of Saynt 
John Baptist in Eltham, where as I am now 



Vicar in the chauncell at the pwe or sets 

In H94, Richard Pemberton willed that he 
should be buried "in the Churche of Saynt 
Joone Bapte in Eltham afore our lady of Pyte 
(Pity), and to the light of our lady of Pytei 

Many more such instances might easily be 
found. But the practice was stopped, within 
the memory of man, by act of Parliament. In 
most old churches we may find brasses, flat 
stones.and other indications of the position of 
such burial places. We can point to nothing of 
this kind in our present church, as the struc- 
ture is comparatively new, and though built 
upon the site of the old church, the exact posi- 
tion of the tombs within the edifice has been 

When a person dies, we still have a custom 
of tolling a bell, which is usually called the 
" Passing Bell." This is a relic of a very 
ancient practice, but the bell, strictly speaking, 
is not the "Passing Bell." We now ring the 
bell after the person has died. In the days of 
old Eltham, the bell was rung just before 
death. It was, therefore, called the "Passing 
Bell," because it notified that a person was 
" passing " out of the state of life into death. 

From an Order issued in the seventh year of 
Elizabeth we find the following notice: 

"When anye Christian Bodie is in passing, 
that the Bell be tolled, and that the Curate be 
speciallie called for to comforte the sicke per- 
son; and after the time of his passing, to ring 
no more, but one short peale; and one before 
the Buriall, and another short peale after the 

But the custom was observed long before the 
-time of Queen Elizabeth. In fact, Bede alludes 
to it in his Ecclesiastical History. From him 
we learn that the bell should be tolled before 
the person's departure, that good men might 
give him their prayers. If these prayers do no 
good to the departing sinner, it is added, they 
at least shew the disinterested charity of the 
person who offers them. 

There is an old English proverb alluding to 
this bell which is widely known : 

"When thou dost hear a Toll or Knell, 
Then think upon Thy Passing Bell." 

It is easy to believe how, in the dark ages, 
when ignorance was wide spread, all sorts of 
superstitions were associated with the "Passing 
Bell." There were some who believed that 
the mere ringing of the bell " was helpful to 
the passage of the soul." 

"The Passing Bell," says Grose, " was 
anciently rung for two purposes : one to be- 
speak the prayers of all good Christians for a 
soul just departing; the other to drive away 
the evil spirits who stood at the bed's foot, and 
about the House, ready to seize their prey, or 
at least to molest and terrify the soul in its 
passage; but by the ringing of that bell (for 
Durandus informs us that Evil Spirits are 
much afraid of bells), they were kept aloof; 
and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the 
start, or had what is by sportsmen called law. 

" Hence, perhaps, exclusive of the additional 
labour, was occasioned the high price for toll- 
ing the greatest bell of the Church; for that, 
being louder, the Evil Spirits must go farther 
off to be clear of its sound, by which the poor 
soul got so much the start of them: besides, 
being heard further off, it would procure the 
dying man a greater number of prayers." 

It is most probable that the true purpose of 
the Passing Bell was to enable those who heard 
it to offer a prayer for a "passing soul." You 
will therefore see how inappropriate it is to 
describe the bell which we now ring imme- 
diately after death, as the " Passing Bell." 

The antiquity of the custom is further shewn 
by the writings of Durandus, who lived in the 
twelfth century. He sets forth details of the 
ringing, which are interesting. 

"When anyone is dying, bells must be tolled 
that the people may put up their prayers ; twice 
for a woman and thrice for a man, if for a 
Clergyman, as many times as he had Orders, 
and at the conclusion a peal on all the bells, to 
distinguish the quality of the person for whom 
the people are put to their prayers. A bell, 
too, must be rung while the corpse is conducted 



to church, and daring the bringing of it out of of the dead. But those we have considered 

the church to the grave." 

There are many other customs, curious and 
interesting, followed by our forefathers, in con- 
nection with the solemn function of the burial 

briefly, are sufficient, perhaps, to enable you to 
catch a glimpse of Eltham life and habits 
when, in those far-off days, they brought their 
dead for interment in this old churchyard. 



It is the dust of a great multitude which is 
mingled here with earth. Eltham folk men, 
women, children, of all times, of all sorts and 
conditions, lie beneath this green grass; many 
and varied were their callings. Knights, war 
riors, courtiers, divines, yeomen, churls, serfs, 
all have been brought here at the last. They 
may have led active and strenuous lives. Their 
hopes, ambitious, disappointments, sorrows, 
were such as we know ourselves, for human 
(motions and passions have been the same in 
all ages. They may have lived in love or in 
enmity one with the other; by their words and 
works they may have added to the joys of their 
village community, or have contributed to its 
sorrows; they may have been brave and indus- 
trious, or idle and good-for-nothing ; the philan- 
thropic, the virtuous, the wayward, the mis- 
chievous, they have all lived their little day, 
even as we are living ours, and then, by the 
hand of remorseless Death have been duly 
gathered in to the abode of silence. 

In a few cases, loving friends have set up 
stones to their memory, graving their names 
thereon, setting forth their virtues. But writ- 
ing, even upon stone, becomes defaced by age, 
the stones themselves crumble away, and the 
names are soon forgotten. 

In the later centuries we may find the names 
of the buried recorded in books. We may scan 
these lists, but it is little that we know of the 
individuals, except in the case of the few 
whose works have lived for awhile after them. 
Of the great host we can gleam nothing beyond 
the name. 

There are a few instances where something is 
said of them which excites our interest, and 

our imagination is stimulated by the little 
glimpse which we get thereby of the times in 
which they lived. 

On August 28th, 1799, John Sauuders, late 
coachman to the King, was buried here, hav- 
ing died at the advanced age of 89 years. The 
King at this time was George III., and it is 
quite likely that, in his declining years, good 
master John Saunders had many a good story 
for his neighbours concerning King George and 
his German Consort, Queen Charlotte. 

In 1603, "One Will Bromeland, alias Brom- 
field," was interred under rather harsh condi- 
tions. He was a servant of Sir William Roper, 
who lived at Well Hall in the mansion some 
remains of which still exist near the moat. 
From the old Parish Register we learn that 
wayward Will Bromeland was " excommuni- 
cated for not coming to churche, and was 
buried by soom of his fellowes in Caulves gar- 
den the 26th of October, and taken up by them 
the 28th of the same moneth, and then coffened 
and carried to Kedbroke, where was no chappel 
this many a yere, and there lyeth." 

From which we may learn that regular 
Church going was very rigorously enforced in 
those days. Woe to the individual who neg- 
lected it. You may be sure that the circum- 
stauces attending the burying of Will Brome- 
laiid, who, you will observe, found not a place 
in this churchyard, gave rise to much serious 
talk and wagging of wise heads among Eltham 
folk at the time. 

Then there was " Old Battan," as the regis- 
ter calls him, who was buried on March 19th, 
1620. He, too, was excommunicated, although 
we are not told why. However, he found his 



resting place here, for he was " buried at the 
permission of Doctor Pope, Chancellor to the 
right reverend father in God, the Lord Bushop 
of Rochester." 

In 1603, we are told that, that "three ser- 
vants of Sir William Eoper died of the 
plague." This, of course, was not the great 
plague so well remembered in history. That 
occurred some sixty years later. " The 
plague" recorded in the Register at this date 
was probably some kind of malignant fever. 
Medical knowledge was of a very crude kind in 
the seventeenth century, even at its close, and 
one form of disease was easily confused with 
another. There were many other deaths in 
Eltham at the time from the same disease. 

On November 24th, 1615, we learn that " Hes- 
ter Ashfield was buried, being an excommuni- 
cated person, in the churchyard, according to 
ye Ixvii. cannon therin provided." One 
may there find, perhaps, what was the sin of 
poor Hester that such a fate awaited her body 
after death. 

We are told that it was on May 1st, 1621, 
there was buried " Master Cornelius Orts, a 
Hollander, servaunt unto the King, for provid- 
ing haukes under Sir Anthony Pell." The 
King was James I., who would ride out to 
Eltham on sporting expeditions. Hawking 
was a great form of sport with the Court in 
those days, lords and ladies fair taking part in 
it. No doubt Master Cornelius Orts was a 
pretty well-known figure at the Eoyal hawk- 
ings. But, notice that his funeral was on 
May-day, which was a national holiday, de- 
voted to maypole dancing and other pastimes, 
and in every village there was merriment. 
There was a tinge of sorrow, doubtless, that 
day in Eltham, for, following the merriment 
of the May-day morn, there came the solemn 
tolling of Master Orts' funeral bell. 

There is just one more that we must notice. 
It is the entry regarding Roger Twist, who was 
buried on September 23rd, 1612, and is de- 
scribed as a recusant, about whom the register 
says that he was " excommunicated and com 
from Rome and repenting earnestly and haste- 
ly desired of the bisshop absolution and to be 
received into the Church of God, departed this 

lyfe after he had received ye comfortable abso- 
lution within five houers after." 

We are not told the particular form of recus- 
ancy for which unstable Roger Twist was given 
this term of reproach. It was enacted in the 
reign of Elizabeth that a fine of twelve pence 
should be imposed on every one absenting him- 
self from church or chapel (of course, those of 
the Establishment), without reasonable excuse. 
There were four classes of recusants. There 
were the Simple Eecusants, who absented 
themselves but managed to escape conviction. 
"But sith our Church him disciplined so sore, 
He, rank recusant came to Church no more." 

There was the Recusant who had been con- 
victed, also the Papist Recusant who would 
refuse to acknowledge the King as head of the 
Church, and the Popish Recusant convict. Pro- 
testant Dissenters were relieved from the 
penalties of recusancy by the Act of Toleration 
in the time of William and Mary. In the 
reign of George III. the "Catholic Belief Act" 
was ' passed, which relieved the Roman 
Catholics. But in 1844, the Recusancy Statute 
itself was repealed. 

The name of Shaw takes a prominent place 
in the burial records of Eltham, during the 
seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth cen- 
turies. The family possessed a vault which was 
constructed beneath the church on the north 
side. The Parish Register records a rather 
unfortunate incident in connection with the 
building of this family vault. This is the 
extract : 

" That while the workmen were digging to 
make the vault under Sir John Shaw's aisle, 
he having obtained a faculty for building the 
said aisle on the north side of the Church, the 
roof of the great aisle in the Church fell down 
by reason of the carelessness of the workmen 
in not shoring up the roof, upon St. Bartholo- 
mew's Day, June 24th, 1667, which with the 
pulpit and pews were rebuilt at the cost of the 
said John Shaw." 

It will be noticed that the clerk who made 
this entry has confused St. Bartholomew's Day 
with that of St. John Baptist, the patronal 

No. 40. 

In the distance the Church. On the right the old " Chequers Inn." (Date 1833). 
The old shops on the immediate right are still in existence. 

No. 41. 


Showing the old " Chequers Inn " (Date 1870), 
OJ the left hand the railings, etc., of the old Vicarage Field. 











o. 44. 


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i. ;*; f *? rjvv 

i JJiKi. 





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I -5J 


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H S 







As the family of Shaw, who were descended 
from Sir Edmund Shaw, Lord Mayor of Lon- 
don in 1382, were associated with Eltham for 
nearly two centuries and played a prominent 
part in its history, we may well regard the 
founder of the Eltham family, who was buried 
beneath the old church, as one of our distin- 
guished dead. Let us, therefore, briefly recall 
his history. 

Mr. John Shaw was a banker in the time of 
the Commonwealth, and he carried on business 
in London and in Antwerp. When Prince 
Charles, the son of the unhappy Charles I., 
was living in exile in Brussels and Antwerp, 
he had the good fortune to meet with the rich 
banker, who relieved the poverty-oppressed 
Prince by a loan of money. 

In the course of time, the Prince was offered 
the Crown of his father, and returned to Eng- 
land as Charles II. Then it was that Mr. 
John Shaw was made the recipient of royal 
favours, apparently upon the principle "that 
one good turn deserves another." He was 
made a baronet, and was trusted with so many 
offices of State that Pepys, the diarist, has left 
on record that he was " a miracle of a man, 
holding more offices than any man in Eng- 

Amongst his many duties were those of sur- 
veyor of the King's woods and trustee of the 
lands of the Queen. 

Eltham was one of the royal estates, and, 
attracted, no doubt, by its delightful position, 
as well as by its proximity to the metropolis, 
Sir John was desirous of acquiring it for his 
own use. The result was that he was granted 
the lease of the manor for himself and heirs, 
for ever, on condition that they renewed the 
leasa from time to time and paid certain fines 
that were duly set out in the document. 

The manor embraced the land from South 
End of Home Park, Lee, together with the 
old Palace, and all the rights of fishing, hawk- 
ing, hunting, &c. The rental was .9 per 
annum, together with 20 shillings for the old 
house, and a "fine" of 3,700. 

From the Eltham Registers we find that on 
June 24th, 1663, which must have been soon 
after his acquisition of the Eltham lease, Sir 
John was married to Lady Bridget, the widow 
of Viscount Killmurray. This was his second 

His lease carried with it building rights, and 
about this time he was proceeding with the 
erection of the large house now standing in 
the Park, and at present occupied by the Elt- 
ham Golf Club. 

At this mansion, Sir John lived the life of 
a country gentleman, visited from time to time 
by his friends of the metropolis, including, at 
least on one occasion, King Charles II. him 
self. The old baronet has left behind him a 
good name, nothwithstanding the fact that 
he lived at a period when wild and dissolute 
living was the fashion. 

On the one hand, we have been told by Bis- 
hop Morley that he was "a very zealous 
Churchman." On the other, Samuel Pepys 
has declared him to have been "a very grave 
and fine gentleman, and very good company." 

He died at the age of 80 years, March 1st, 
1679, and he was interred in the vault which 
he had had built beneath the church, and 
where rest many other members of his 

Among the distinguished members of the 
Shaw family is the Rev. John Kenward Shaw 
Brooke, who was for the long period of sixty 
years Vicar of Eltham. He died on Decem- 
ber 16th, 1840, in the 82ud year of his age. He 
was beloved in Eltham for his good works, and 
on the occasion of his jubilee in 1833, there 
were great rejoicings in the village. He left 
a bequest for the benefit of our schools. There 
is an oil painting of the old Vicar at the 
Church, which was presented to him by bin 
parishioners on the occasion of his jubilee. An 
engraving from this picture hangs in our 

The members of the Shaw family who have 
been interred in the great family vault be- 
neath the church are : 


DAME MARGERY SHAW, late wife of Sir John 
Shaw, Bart., died 2nd August, 1690. 



SB. JOHN PEAKE, Knt. and Alderman of Lon- 
don. Died 2nd June, 1688. 

SR. JOHN SHAW, Knight and Bart. Died 
1st March, 1679, aged 80 years. 

MRS. ELIZTH. SHAW. Died 24th April, 1693. 

DAME ELIZTH. SHAW. Died February, 1750, 
in the 24th year of her age. 

SB. JN. SHAW, Bart., Collector of his 
Majesty's Customs of the Port of London. 
Died December 8th, 1721. Aged 63. 

SARAH LADY SHAW, Late wife of Sr. John 
Shaw, of Eltham, Bart., died ye 2nd Jan'y, 
1742 (3). 

JOHN SHAW, Esq., Eldest Son of Sr. John 
Shaw, Bart., died 16th May, MDCCLXI., in 
the llth year of his age. 

LEWIS JAMES SHAW, Esq., died 15th May, 
1807, in the 14th year of his age. 

DAME JCDITH PEAKE (Relict of Sir Jno. 
Peake, Knt., late Lord Mayor of ye City of 
London), died ye 10th Jan'y, 1723 (4), in ye 
81st year of her age. 

DAME ANNE MARIA SHAW, died 29th Kov'r, 
1755, in the 58th year of her age. 

The Eight Hon'ble BRIDGET, Viscountess of 
Kilmurry. Died 7th July, 1696. 

DAME MARTHA SHAW. Relict of Sr. Jno. Shaw, 
Bart., died Oct'r 28th, 1794, in the 64th year 
of her age. 

SR. JOHN SHAW, Bart. Died 18 June, 1779, 
in the 51st year of his age. 

SR. JOHN SHAW, Bart. Died 4th March, 
1738 (9), aged 53 years. 

The Son of Sir JOHN SHAW, Bart., and Dame 
MARTHA. April 2nd, 1755. 

December, 1757, aged 4 mo. & 6 dys. 

THEODOSIA SHAW, daughter of Sir Jno. 
Gregy. Shaw, Bart., and the Hon. Dame Tha : 
Mar: died Feb'y 3rd, 1785, aged 9 ms. & 14 

Jno. Gregy. Shaw, Bart., and the Honble. 
Dame Theoa. Margt., born April 28th, 1792, 
died June llth, 1794. 

Vincit Qui Patitur. SIR JOHN GREGORY 
SHAW, Bart., Died 28 Oct., 1831. Aged 75 

DOWAGER MONSON, relict of John, the 2nd 
Baron Monson, died Feby. 20th, 1821, in the 
96th year of her age. 

SHAW. Died 24 Octr., 1847, aged 85 years. 

Miss EMMA GRACE HAWLEY. Died 18th May, 
1819, aged 5 mons. 

JOHN SHAW, Died Octr. 30th, aged 2 weeks, 

Two small coffins without inscriptions. 


The Honble. MAB. PHIL. MOHUN. Died 31st 
Augst, 1703. 

The Honble. MARY NEEDHAM. Died 31st 
August, 1701, in the 39th year of her age. 

Mrs. SARAH GWILT. Eldest daughter of 
Wm. Shaw, Esq., and relict of John Gwilt, 
of Cheshunt, Herts., Esq., died July 5th, 1784, 
aged 62 years. 

MRS. ELIZTH SHAW, wife of Wm. Shaw, Esq., 
died Deer. 28, 1758, in the 58th year of her 

WM. SHAW, Esq., eldest son of Sr. Jno. 
Shaw, Bart., by Sarah, his 2nd wife, died 
Feby 5th, 1767, aged 70. 

MARY SHAW, spinster. Died 10th May, 1766. 
Aged 65 

PAGGEN SHAW, Esq. Died 23rd Augst., 1770. 
Aged 70. 

MRS. CAMILLA SHAW. Ob. 30 Deer., 1759, 
^Etat. 35. 

MR. JNO. PARKER. Died 16th Oct., 1720, 
aged 24. 

WM. SMITH, M.D., Died 28th Mar., 1744, aged 
33 yrs. 

SARAH, the wife of Wm. Smith, Esq., eldest 
daughter of Sr. Jno. Shaw, Bart., by Dame 
Margy, his wife, died July 22nd, 1722. JEtat 

MRS. ELIZTH. RAN. Died Sept 3rd, 1760, in 
the 71st year of her age. 

JNO. SHAW, Esq., eldest son of Wm. Shaw, 
Esq., died May 2nd, 1772. Aged 51. 

MRS. ANN TRONS. Died 3rd Jany, 1775, aged 
66 years. 

MRS. JANE JACKSON. Died llth Dec'r, 1767. 
Aged 61. 

ELIZ'H, 2nd daughter of Wm. Shaw, Esqr., 
died 14th Oct., 1769. 

WM. HUGHES. Died 26th Dec'r, 1786, aged 
13 years. 

WM. HUGHES, Esqr. Died 21st April, 1786, 
aged 36 years. 

FRANCES ANNE SHAW. Died 11 Dec'r, 1872. 
Aged 84 yrs. 

Died 16th Deer., 1840, in the 82nd year of 
his age. 



AUGCSTA ANNE SHAW. Died 15 June, 1833. 
Aged 42 yrs. 

CHARLES SHAW, Esq.r., Captain of the Royal 
Navy. Ob. 2nd May, 1829, aged 43 years. 

the late Charles Shaw, Esq., E.N.), died 15th 
Jany., 1840, aged 11 years 11 months. 

In a letter written by the Queen of Bohemia 
from the Hague, to Mr. Secretary Nicholas, 
Sept. 29, 1654, an interesting comment is made 

upon one of the ladies who now sleeps in this 
Eltham vault. The Queen writes : 

"Phil. Mohun is here; she is fled from 
England, fearing to be imprisoned by Crom- 
well. She's verie good company and talkes 
verie freely but handsomlie." 

The honourable lady is believed to have been 
a maid of honour to the Queen of Bohemia. 
The allusion throws a vivid flash of light upon 
those troublous times. (Note Evelyn's Diary. 
Ed. 1895. Vol. iv., page 212.) 

HELMETS, 1675. 

(This picture is taken from the original and only contemporary Print of the famous Actor). 



We will continue in this chapter some 
further observations upon the distinguished 
dead who found a resting place in the old 
churchyard or beneath the old church of 

THOMAS DOGGET (Comedian), 
Interred in the Parish Vault, Sept. 27th, 1721. 

The parish register records that the church- 
wardens received the customary fee for inter- 
ment of Thomas Dogget in the church. 
Although Dogget was a capable come- 
dian and a highly respectable and 
respected gentleman in his day, his name 
would not have been any more familiar to us 
now-a-daye than that of the other capable 
comedians and respectable gentlemen of his 
time if he had not been an ardent politician. 
He lived at a time when political controversy 
raged round questions associated with the 
Hanoverian succession. Dogget was a very 

pronounced Whig, so pronounced, indeed, that 
he set by a sum of money to endow an annual 
waterman's race upon the Thames in memory 
of the advent of the Hanoverian kings, and it 
is really this waterman's race which has made 
Dogget's name so distinguished. How many 
of the people who flock to this annual event 
have any idea who and what Dogget was, 
and why he instituted and endowed the con- 
test for the "Dogget Coat and Badge?" This 
race comes off every year on the 1st of August, 
or as near to that date as the conditions of the 
tide will allow. The course of the highly- 
popular race is from London Bridge to Chel- 
sea, on the top of an ebb tide. The contest is 
usually keen, and is witnessed by large 

Now, although Thomas Dogget was really an 
Irishman by birth, we may fairly claim him 
as one of our Eltham worthies, for, not only 
was he buried here, but he had lived amongst 



the Eltham people for years, and had married 
the grand-daughter of old Dr. Owen, the 
Vicar of Eltham at the time. 

Dogget was a man of mark in his day. He 
was a distinguished actor and also an author 
of plays. He played at Old Drury, and so 
original was he at his art that Congreve, the 
dramatist, wrote plays to suit his particular 
style. He also shared in the management of 
Drury, along with Wilks and Colley Gibber. 
The latter has said of him that "Dogget was 
the most of an original and the strictest 
observer of nature of all his contemporaries; 
he was a pattern to others, whose greatest 
merit it was that they sometimes tolerably 
imitated him." 

Anthony Ashton, a companion of Dogget, 
has left behind a little word portrait of our 
comedian which is worth reading. It runs 
thus : "Dogget, in person, was a lively little 
man; in behaviour, modest, cheerful and com- 
plaisant; he sang in company very agreeably, 
and in public very comically; he danced the 
Cheshire round full well as Captain George . . 
I travelled with him in his strolling company, 
and found him a man of very good sense, but 
illiterate, for he wrote me word thus : 'Sir, I 
will have a hole share,' instead of a whole 
share. He dressed neat, and something fine 
in plain cloth coat and a brocaded waistcoat. 
While I travelled with him each sharer kept 
his horse, and was everywhere respected as a 

From this we may picture in our mind's 
eye Thomas Dogget going to Eltham church 
on a Sunday morning, decked out in his 
brocaded waistcoat, knee breeches, and shoes 
with shiny buckles, looking every inch a gentle- 
man. We may, perhaps, picture the jolly little 
man making an occasional call at The King's 
Arms, or one of the other old Eltham hos- 
tel lies, and there, to the old gossips of the 
village, retailing, with rare wit, tales from his 
storehouse of jests, to their great amusement 
and edification. 

But Dogget was a strong party politician. 
Sir Richard Steel, the friend of Addison, used 
to say that "Dogget was a Whig up to his very 
ears." It was, therefore, no great wonder 

that he endowed the race which was to keep 
in memory the accession of George I. 

We are told that Dogget made a fortune, 
and retired to the pretty country village of 
Eltham to enjoy it. 


Sir William James was interred here on 
December 22nd, 1783. His death had occurred 
under very painful circumstances, for he died 
quite suddenly on the occasion of the festivi- 
ties in connection with the marriage of his 
daughter at Park Farm-place. 

Sir William was a distinguished sailor of 
his day. "He was born at Milford Haven in 
1721, went to sea at the age of 12 years, and 
commanded a ship when he was twenty. He 
served under Sir Edward Hawke, in the West 
Indies in 1738. While in the command of a 
trading ship he was captured by the 
Spaniards in the Gulf of Florida. After being 
released, he suffered shipwreck in a storm, 
and, with seven of his crew, endured great 
hardships for twenty days in a small boat, 
Mr. James's snuff-box serving to measure each 
man's daily allowance of water. They drifted 
back to Cuba, whence they had parted from 
the Spaniards, and were received by them 
back again into captivity. 

The East India Company afterwards em- 
ployed the gallant captain as commander of 
the Guardian, in suppressing piracy on the 
Malabar Coast. Acting as convoy to seventy 
trading vessels, he was attacked by Angria, 
the pirate, and a large fleet of frigates, which 
he beat off. 

In 1751, he was appointed Commander-in- 
chief of the East India Company's marine 
forces, and, on April 2nd, 1755, he captured 
Severndroog, the chief fortress of the pirate 

In 1756 he captured a French ship, his 
superior in men and guns, and carried her to 
Bombay; and in 1757 he showed his nautical 
skill by navigating a vessel through a con- 
trary monsoon, and conveying 500 troops to 
Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive, and the 
intelligence of the outbreak of the war with 
France. The capture of the chief French 




settlement, Chandenagore, was the result of 
this piece of seamanship. 

Captain James returned to England in 1759, 
and the East India Company presented him 
with a handsome gold-hilted sword. He was 
chosen a director of the Company, and re- 
mained in that office for twenty years. 

For fifteen years he was Deputy-Master of 
Trinity House; he was also a Governor of 

feet high, or in all, 140 feet higher than St. 
Paul's, and was constructed from the design 
of Mr. Jupp. 

It consists of three stages; on each of the 
upper stories is a room with two smaller 
rooms adjoining, and neatly fitted up. At 
one time its vestibule was ornamented with 
armour and trophies taken at Severndroog, 
whence its name, "Severndroog Castle." 


Greenwich Hospital, and Member of Parlia- 
ment for West Looe. As a testimonial for his 
skill in planning the reduction of Pondicherry 
he was presented by the East India Company 
with a rich service of plate. 

He rebuilt the house in Eltham, and gave 
it the name of Park Farm Place. He was 
created a baronet in May, 1778." 

The tower which we see yonder peeping out 
from among the trees was erected by his 
widow, Dame James, in memory of her dis- 
tinguished husband. This interesting land- 
mark is of triangular form. It stands sixty 

"This far-seen monumental tower 
Records the achievements of the brave. 

And Angria's subjugated power, 
Who plundered on the eastern wave." 

The body of the deceased baronet was, in the 
first place, interred within the parish vault 
beneath the church, but was subsequently re- 
moved by his widow. 


Buried in the family vault, August 9th, 
1798, aged 56 years. 



Dame James is a household word in Eltharu. 
by reason of the charity which is called by her 
name. She was the daughter and heiress of 
Edward Goddard, of Hartham, Wilts, and be- 
came the wife of Sir William James. 

Their only son, Sir Edward William James, 
of Eltham, Bart., died, unmarried, November 
16th, 1752, at the age of 18. Their only daugh- 
ter Elizabeth Anne, married Lord Eancliffe in 
1795. It was on the occasion of this marriage 
that the sad death of Sir William took place. 

We find that Dame James obtained a faculty 
to erect a tomb in the churchyard for the 
exclusive use of her family, and she was em- 
powered to have removed from the . parish 
vault and placed in the new tomb the bodies 
of her cousin, Brigadier General Thomas God- 
dard, her husband, Sir William James, her 
father, Edward Goddard, her son, Sir Edward 
William James, and her child who had died at 
birth. This tomb may be seen In the church- 

Dame James left a legacy of 500, the in- 
terest of which was to be distributed in coal to 
the poor inhabitants of Eltham some day in 
December before the 14th of that month. 

Buried on Jan. 28th, 1797. 

This lady, the only daughter of Sir William 
and Dame Anne James, whose married life 
began under such tragic circumstances, was 
exceedingly beautiful. The artist, Hoppner, 
painted a three-quarter length portrait of her, 
and this was engraved by Wilkin in 1795. 

Her son, the last peer, died in 1850. One 
of her daughters, Maria Charlotte, married, 
first in 1817, the Marquess de Choiseul, and 
secondly, in 1824, the Prince de Polignac. 
Ministers of Charles X., the King of France. 

The parish register informs us that Lady 
Rancliffe was buried at Eltham with great 
pomp. She was only 31 years of age. 




On the north side of the church, within a few 
yards of the chancel door, are two square tombs, 
each surmounted by an urn, and surrounded by 
iron railings. On the larger of these tombs, 
and upon the side facing the church, will be 
found the following record: 

Here lie Interred 

The earthly Remains of 

The Right Reverend George Home, D.D. 

Many years President of Magdalen College in 


Dean of Canterbury 
and late Bishop of Norwich, 

In whose Character 

Depth of Learning, Brightness of Imagination 
Sanctity of Manners, and Sweetness of Temper 
Were united beyond the usual lot of Mortality. 
With his Discourses from the Pulpit, his 

Whether of the University, the City, or the 

Country Parish 

were edified and delighted. 

His Commentary on the Psalms will continue 

to be 

a Companion to the Closet 
Till the Devotion of Earth shall end in the 

Hallelujah of Heaven. 
Having patiently suffered under such 


as seemed not due to his years 

His Soul took its flight from this vale of misery 

To the unspeakable loss of the Church of 


and his sorrowing friends and admirers 
Janry. 17th, 1792, in the 62nd year of his age. 
This warmly expressed eulogy, though written 
by one who was probably closely and intimately 

associated with the good Bishop, and at the 
time of recent bereavement, when we are apt 
to dwell upon the virtues of those of whom we 
are bereft, is not by any means an over state- 
ment of the excellent qualities of this distin- 
guished divine. History speaks well of him, 
who, a man of ripe scholarship, of consistent 
life, of singular gentleness of character, was 
revered by his contemporaries, and was a force 
for good in the land. 

He had no official connection with Eltham, 
but he married the daughter of Philip Burton, 
Esq., of Eltham House the dwelling which is 
now the residence of Dr. St. John and that 
was how it came to pass that he found a resting 
place in our churchyard, close to the adjoining 
tomb already referred to, which is that of the 
Burton family. 

George Home was bora at Otham, near Maid- 
stone, on November 1st, 1730, and was the son 
of Samuel Home, who was rector of the parish. 
He received his early education from his father, 
and so great was his progress under parental 
tuition, that when, at the age of thirteen 
years, he was presented for admission to the 
Maidstone Grammar School, the head master, 
the Rev. Deodatus Bye, was surprised that he 
should seek to enter the school when he was 
fit enough to leave it. 

At the age of sixteen, he won a "Maidstone 
Scholarship" at University College, Oxford, 
where he matriculated in March, 1745-6. 

It was during his undergraduate course that 
he became first acquainted with William Jones, 
who was destined to become, in future years, 
his chaplain and also biographer. Among other 
constant friends at the University were Charles 



Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool, and 
John Moore, who became Archbishop of Canter- 

He graduated B.A. in October, 1749, and was 
elected to a Kentish Fellowship at Magdalen 
College in 1750. Here he spent the greater 
part of his life. He graduated M.A. in 1752, 
.and was ordained by the Bishop of Oxford in 
1753. He was made junior Proctor in 1758, and 
in 1768 was elected "President of Magdalen." 

From 1771 to 1781 he was Chaplain in 
Ordinary to the King (George III.). In 1776 he 
became Vice-Chancellor of the University, an 
office which brought him into direct contact 
with Lord North, who was Chancellor of the 
University at the time. 

His biographer says : " With two such 
friends as Lord Liverpool and Lord North, and 
with his own intrinsic merits, he was clearly 
-marked out for preferment. Accordingly, in 
1781, he was made Dean of Canterbury." On 
receiving this appointment, he intended to re- 
sign his presidentship of Magdalen, and to take 
np his abode permanently in Kent. But he 
was persuaded from this course of action, and 
submitted to the unsettled life of a pilgrim be- 
tween the two situations of his college and his 
deanery. We are told that " with everything 
that lay between Oxford and Canterbury he 
was acquainted, but with little else besides." 

In 1788 his health seems to have broken down 
prematurely; but in June, 1790, after some 
hesitation on this account, he accepted the 
Bishopric of Norwich. He held this important 
post but a short time. His health grew worse, 
and while on a journey to Bath he suffered a 
paralytic stroke, from which he never fully re- 
covered. He died at Bath on January 17th, 
1792, whence his remains were brought to 
Eltham for interment. 

There is a marble tablet to his memory on a 
pillar on the north side of the choir in Norwich 

It was in 1769 that he married the daughter 
of Philip Burton, of Eltham, and three daugh- 
ters were the result of the union. 

The Dictionary of National Biography, from 
which most of these notes are taken, comment- 

ing upon the life and work of Bishop Home, 

says : 

"Like many earnest men of the day, Home 
fell under the inputation of Methodism. He 
adopted the views of John Hutchinson (1674- 
1737), and wrote in his defence, although he 
disagreed with that theologian in his fanciful 
interpretations of Hebrew etymology. 

" Hutchinsonianism had some points in 
common with Methodism, notably its intense 
appreciation of Holy Scripture, and its insist- 
ence upon spiritual religion. But Home was 
distinctly what would now be called a High 
Churchman, and he publicly protested from the 
University pulpit against those who took their 
theology from the Tabernacle and the Foundry, 
instead of from the great divines of the church. 

"Nevertheless, apart from his position as a 
Hutchinsonian, Home personally shewed a 
sympathy with the Methodists. He strongly 
disapproved of the expulsion of the Methodist 
students from St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford. 

" He would not have John Wesley, an ordained 
minister of the Church of England, forbidden 
to preach in his diocese, and John Wesley 
thoroughly appreciated his action. 

" Home was an active promoter of the Naval 
and Military Bible Society, which was founded 
in 1780. Towards the close of his .life he 
espoused the cause of the Scottish Bishops, who, 
in 1789, came up to London to petition Parlia- 
ment for the relief from penalties under which 
they had long suffered." 

As might be expected from a man of such 
learning and intellectual vigour, he wrote a 
great deal, and issued many pamphlets upon 
theological and other subjects. 

We are told that from an early age he wrote 
against such antagonists as Newton, Hume, 
Adam Smith, and William Law, "all of whom 
he ludicrously under-rated." 

His chief works are: 

(1) "A Fair, Candid, and Impartial State- 
ment of the Case between Sir Isaac Newton and 

Mr. Hutchinson," 1753. 


Of this work, his friend and biographer, Mr. 
Jones, says: "He allowed Sir Isaac the great 



merit of having settled laws and rules in 
natural philosophy; but, at the same time, he 
claimed for Mr. Hutchinson the discovery of 
the true physiological causes by which, under 
the power of the Creator, the natural world 
was moved and directed." 

(2) "Cautions to the readers of Mr. Law, and 
with very few varieties to the Readers of Baron 

(8) "A View of Mr. Kennicott's Method of 
Correcting the Hebrew Text," 1760. 

(4) "A Letter to Dr. Adam Smith," 1777. 

(5) "Letters on Infidelity." 

(0) "Answer to Dr. Clayton's Essay on 

(7) "Commentary on the Psalms," 1771. 

" A Defence of the Divinity of Christ," which 
he proposed to write, in answer to Dr. Priestly, 
wan not accomplished, on account of his illness 
and subsequent death. 

The great work of his life was his " Com- 
mentary on the Psalms," which took him 
twenty years to write, and he tells us in his 
well-written preface to the work that it proved 
to him a most delightful occupation. The 
" Commentary," which is partly explanatory 
and partly devotional, proceeds upon the prin- 
ciple that most of the Psalms are more or less 
Miwsiunio, and cannot be properly understood, 
unless in relation to the Messiah. 

Dr. Richard Maut has transferred the preface 
almost en bloc to the pages of his annotated 
" Book of Common Prayer." 

Hannah More, of whom Bishop Home was 
a groat friend, and who was in Bath at the 
time of his fatal illness, was much attracted 
by the "sweet and devout spirit" of the "Com- 

Another work of a similar character was " Con- 
siderations on the Life and Death of St. John 
the liaptist," 1769. This work was an expan- 
sion of a sermon preached by Dr. Home on St. 
John the Baptist's Day, 1755, from the open-air 
pulpit in the quadrangle of Magdalen College. 

On the occasion of this sermon, it is recorded 
that a green fence was put up all round the 
quad, in order that "the preaching might more 
nearly resemble that of St. John the Baptist 
in the wilderness." 

Dr. Home had a great reputation as a 
preacher, and his earnest and scholarly sermons 
were frequently reprinted. Many of them are 
often quoted to-day by devotional writers, but 
of all his works the "Commentary" is the only 
one t lint holds a really permanent place in oui 

When Dr. Johnson visited Oxford, with hi* 
friend, Boswell, they waited upon Dr. Home, 
at Magdalen, and as throwing a little sidelight 
upon the subject of our sketch, we may quote 
from Hoswell's Life of Johnson, the note he 
made on the occasion. The chronicler says: 

" We drank tea with Dr. Home, late Presi- 
dent of Magdalen College, and Bishop of Nor- 
wich, of whose abilities, in different respects, 
the public has had eminent proofs, and the 
esteem annexed to whose character was in- 
creased by knowing him personally. He had 
talked of publishing an edition of Walton's 
Lives, but had laid aside the design, upon Dr. 
Johnson telling him, from mistake, that Lord 
Hailes intended to do it. I had wished to 
negotiate between Lord Hailes and him, that 
one or the other should perform so good a 

In 'another part of Boswell's "Life" an 
allusion is made to Dr. Home, which is very 
interesting. He says: 

"This year (1778) the Rev. Mr. Home pub- 
lished his ' Letter to Mr. Dunning on the 
English Particle.' Johnson read it, and though 
not treated in it with sufficient respect, he had 
candour enough to say to Mr. Seward, ' Were I 
to make a new edition of my dictionary I would 
adopt several of Mr. Home's etymologies ; I 
hope they did not put the dog in the pillory 
for his libel; he has too much literature for 
that.' " 

ST. AUGUSTINi; (Koyal M.S.) 



We ilo not seem to have any record of tho drift 
church that was erected in Kltham. In Dooms- 
day Book there is no mention made of a church 
at all, but we must not think from thin that 
there was no church at that time. It was no 
part of the plan of the Dooinsdiiy Survey to 
include the churches, and you will flnd that it 
is quite an exception to tho rule if a church is 
mentioned in that interesting compilation. Tin 
oeems to show that it was not the policy of 
William the Conqueror to interfere with tho 
temporalities of tho Church, as he found it in 
England. And we may safely UHSiime that there 
was already a Saxon or English Church at 
Eltham. Five hundred years had passed away 
wince Saint Augustine had first preached the 
Gospel to the heathen JutcH at Canterbury, and 
during that period Christianity had spread ill 
all directions, a great English Church bad 

grown up, and in every village community a 
prominent point of interest was its little temple 
of worship. 

Tlu'so Saxon churches wen- mostly con- 
structed of wood, and that is the reason why 
so few remains of them are to be found now. 
Some of them, however, were built of stone, and 
here and there, about the country, you may still 
come across them, or what is left of them. 

There were very seldom any aisles or pillars 
in these old Anglo-Saxon Churches, but the 
roof was pitched from the outside walls. A 
nave, a chancel, and a western tower seem tc 
have been the usual forms. There are some old 
towers still standing, attached to more modern 
churches, and, sometimes, you will flnd old 
towers have been added, or perhaps re-built, to 
an ancient nave. 



There is Greenstead Church, in Essex, and 
Sompting Church, in Sussex, which will give 
you a very good idea of what an Anglo-Saxon 
church was like. Whenever you visit a coun 
try village, where an old church still remains, 
you will find it an interesting exercise to 
examine its architecture, and try and discover 
at what period of our history it was first made. 
Young cyclists in these days have excellent 
opportunities for the reading of village history 
in this way. 

Unhappily we have no ancient church build- 
ing in Eltham to which we can point, for the 
Parish Church has only been in existence a 
little over thirty years. But we do know, of 
a certainty, of two other churches that stood 
upon the spot where the Church of St. John 
the Baptist now stands, for there are records 
to prove it; and we may be pretty sure that 
there must have been an Anglo-Saxon church 
even before them, in so ancient a community 
as Eltham, though, as yet, no records have come 
to light to tell us anything about it. 

The first mention that we can find of an 
Eltham church is in 1166. This was a hundred 
years after the coming of William the Norman, 
and it was in the reign of Henry II. 

You will recollect that, in an earlier chapter, 
we noted that the Manor of Eltham, in the 
time of Haitno, the " Shire-Reeve," became a 
part of the " honor" of Gloucester. From this 
we may be able to understand how it was that 
" William, Earl of Gloucester, on his founding 
the priory within his manor, at Keynsham, in 
Somerset, about the year 1166" was able to give 
"to the Church of St. Mary and St. Paul, of 
Keynsham, and the canons regular there serv- 
ing God, in free and perpetual alms, the Church 
of St. John, of Hautham (Eltham), with its 

This gift was subsequently confirmed by an- 
other Earl of Gloucester, Gilbert de Clare, who 
was a grandson of the William referred to 
above, and also, in 1242, by Richard de Wen- 
dover, who was Bishop of Rochester, to whose 
diocese the living of Eltham belonged. 

Now, this arrangement was the beginning of 
thft plan which has been in operation ever 
since, namely, that of making the priest of the 

Church at Eltham a vicar, and not a rector. 
Let us see if we can understand the difference.. 

Our ancestors, when they formed a Christian 
Church, did what other Christian communities- 
had done. They set apart one-tenth of their 
yearly products or increases for the payment of 
those who ministered unto them religion, and 
for the maintenance of their churches. These 
"tenths" are called "tithes." 

It is most likely that they got the idea of 
"one-tenth" from what they had read in the- 
Old Testament. You will remember how 
Abraham gave one-tenth of the spoils he had 
taken in his battle with the kings to Melchise- 
dek, the priest of the most high God; how 
Jacob, at Bethel, vowed to give "tithes" to 
Jehovah, if he were divinely permitted to re- 
turn to his father's tent in safety and 
prosperity; how the Jews had to pay "tithes" 
to the Levites, according to the law of Moses, 
and how, on their part, the Levites had to pay 
" tithes" for the support of the high priest. 
As we have already said, it was probably in 
imitation of the Jewish plan that the early 
Christian Churches adopted the system of 

In olden days these tithes were paid in 
" kind" ; that is to say, not in money, but in 
corn, or hay, or wood, and other products, 
which went to make up the yearly in- 
come of a person. To receive these contribu- 
tions most parishes had, not far from the 
church, a barn, or barns, and these were called 
" tithe-barns." There are many people in 
Eltham who can recollect the old " tithe-barn," 
which stood close to the churchyard, at the 
west end of the old church. It was burned 
down in 1872. 

There were three kinds of tithes: 

(1) There were tithes which arose from tha 
production of the laud, such as corn, grass, 
hops, wood, and the like. These made up what 
was called the "great tithe." 

(2) There were tithes for the live stock upon 
lands, such as wool, milk, pigs, &c., natural 
products, nurtured and preserved by the cara 
of man; also 



(3) Tithes from the personal industry of the 
inhabitants, such as manual occupation, trades, 
fisheries, and the like. These two latter kind 
of tithes made up what was called the "small 

We may be sure that they had a busy time 
of it at the tithe-barns, when the waggons 
brought in their tenths, and the tenths of the 
live stock and other things were brought to- 

In course of time it was found to be a diffi- 
cult thing to arrange for the payments of tithes 
in this way. So a law was made, by which the 
payment was made in money, and not in kind, 
-and that is how it is done at the present day. 

Now, when the priest of the parish received 
all the tithes, namely, the "great tithe," and 
the "small tithe," he was called a "rector," 
but when the " great tithe" was appropriated 
by a " religious house," or by some other per- 
son who was not the officiating clergyman, and 
the priest received only the "small tithe," he 
was then called a "vicar." 

From this you will see that the Abbots of 
Keynsham were really made the " rectors" of 
Eltham, when the Earl of Gloucester granted to 
them the Church of St. John of Hautham 
(Eltham), and the priest who had to perform 
the duties here became a vicar. 

This arrangement went on for more than 
three hundred years. Then, in 1538, there came 
about that great historical event, the Dissolu- 
tion of the Monasteries, by Henry VIII. The 
Abbey of Keynsham shared the fate of the other 
Abbeys, and along with other possessions of 
that monastery, the rectory of Eltham and the 
right of appointing the vicar were appropriated 
by the Crown. 

Some five years afterwards the King granted 
these rights to Walter Hendley, who was one of 
his great officers of State. This official, there- 
fore, was the one to whom the "great tithe" 
was paid. 

After his death the rights were sold by his 
daughter to the Provost of Oriel College, 
Oxford, William Roper, of Well-hall, and 

The right of appointing the vicar of Eltham 
was then reserved to William Roper, and the 
rectory to Oriel College, "with the stipulation 
that, on paying .100 as a fine, and a yearly 
rent of ,14, the College should grant a lease of 
the same, either for three lives, or 31 years, to 
Eoper and his heirs." 

At the present day the Provost and Scholars 
of Oriel College, Oxford, are the "rector" of 
Eltham, and the receivers of the " great tithe." 
The advowsou of the vicarage was sold by 
the Roper family, many years ago, and has 
several times changed hands. 


PATRON. William, Earl of Gloucester. 
RECTORS. Adam de Bromleigh (PChesilhurst). 


Picard. 1176. 

Robert London. May, 1242, when 
the church was appropriated to 
the Abbey of Keynsham. 
VICARS. Robert (probably the late Rector). 

25 Sept., 1242. 

PATRON. Abbot and Convent of Keynsham. 
VICARS. John Vassur. 

John Hugh de Brampton. 23 Dec., 

John le Hwyte. (Resigned 1359.) 
Richard Nozebroun. 1359. 

PATRON. Bishop of Rochester, jure devoluto. 
VICAR. John Noble. 1362. (Resigned 1366). 

PATRON. Abbot and Convent of Keynsham. 
VICARS. Henry Wessely. 1366. 

John Byrston. 1393-4. 

William Tyrell. 1399. 

John Aleyn. 1403. 

John Buset. 1405. 

Thomas Brownshale. 

John Palmer. 1423. 

Richard Briggs. 1430. 

John Brenan. 1434. 

Robert Purcell. 1457. 

Thomas Gary. 1463. 

David Kuyston. 1464. 

John Waryre. 1493. 

Thurston Anderton. 1493. 


PATRON. John Chokke, gent., for this turn. 
VICAR. Thomas Tumour. 1503-4. 

PATRON. Bishop of Rochester. 
VICAR. Robert Makerell. 1506. 

PATRON. William Draper. 
VICAR. Robert Robson. 1513. 

PATRON. John Chokk, Esq. (By grant from 

Abbot of Keynsham). 
VICAR. Philip Carrok. 1521. 

PATRON. Abbot and Convent of Keynsham. 
VICARS. Roger Grenehod. 1529. 

Henry Underwood. 

Thomas Hugley. 1556. 

William Hamond. 

PATRON. William Roper, Esq. 
VICAR. John Carnecke. 1588-9. 
PATRON. John Griffithe, LL.D. 
VICAR. Thomas Thirlwynde. 1576. 

Richard Tyler. 1584-5. 

James Twiste, M.A. 1585. 

John Fourde, M.A. 1589. 

PATRON. House of Convocation, Oxford. (Sir 
William Roper, the true patron, 
being a convicted recusant, the 
presentation fell to the University 
of Oxford). 

VICAR. Robert Forward, B.D. 1628. 

PATRON. Oriel College, Oxford. 

VICARS. Edward Witherston, M.A. 1635. 

Richard Owen, M.A. 1635-6. (A 
distinguished scholar and divine. 

Ejected from his living in 1643 on 
account of his adherence to the 
Royal Cause. Rector of North 
Cray, 1657. Made D.D. 1660. Died 
at Eltham 1682-3.) 

William Overton. 1646. (Recom- 
mended by Com. of House of 
Commons to have the "Care of the 
Parish Church of Eltham." As- 
sembly of Divines directed to 
examine his fitness. Sequestered 
1650. Ceded living in 1658.) 

PATRON. Edward Roper. 

VICAR. Clement Hobson, M.A. 1658. (Sub- 
scribed to Act of Uniformity, 15 
August, 1662.) 

PATRON. Charles Henshaw. 
VICAR. Richard Peter, B.A. 1726. 

PATRON. Sir Gregory Page, Bart. 

VICAR. Peter Pinnell, M.A. 1749. (Subse- 
quently was made D.D. In 1775 
was a Prebendary of Rochester 
Cathedral. He lived in the house 
now occupied by Mrs. Dobell). 

PATRON. Sir Gregory Page-Turner. 

VICAR. John Kenward Shaw, M.A. 

PATRON. The Queen for this turn. (By reason 
of the lunacy of Sir Gregory 
Osborne Page-Turner, Bart.) 

VICAR. Charles Gulliver Fryer, M.A. 1841. 

PATRON. Thomas Berin Sowerby. 
VICARS. Walter James Sowerby, M.A. 1869. 
Elphinstone Rivers, L.Th. 1895. 



Of the churches, that is to say, the fabrics or 
structures which have stood on the site of the 
Parish Church, we have records of three. There 
was the old church, which probably dated from 
very early times, and which fell down on St. 
John the Baptist's Day (June 24th), 1667. The 
restored church which succeeded it was pulled 
down in 1873, arid the present church 
was then built and opened on the 5th of August, 


There is not much known of the first of these 
fabrics, beyond what can be gleaned from the 
parish records. In the churchwardens' accounts 
there are references to the old church, which 
enable us to get some idea of what it was like, 
and these accounts date back as far as 1554, 
which was the time of Queen Mary. Further 
information may be obtained also from the re- 
ferences made to the church in the ancient wills 
which have been alluded to in a previous chap- 
ter. From these records we may learn a good 
deal of the services of the church and of the 
ornaments, vestments, and other attributes of 
public worship which it possessed. 

There does not appear to have been anything 
very special or imposing in its structure. There 
was probably, in addition to the nave and 
chancel, a south aisle, and at least one chapel, 
if not more. The wills reveal the fact that it 
possessed images of saints, and several altars, 
and the usual rood screen and beam. A north 
aisle was built by Sir John Shaw about the 
middle of the seventeenth century. 

We might explain here that the "rood" 
was a representation of the Crucified Saviour, 
or very frequently, of the Trinity, placed in 

Roman Catholic churches over the screen 
which separated the chancel from the nave, 
and hence called the " rood screen." Generally 
the figures of the Virgin and St. John were 
placed at a slight distance on each side of the 
principal group, in reference to St. John 
xxix. 26. 

In the churchwardens' account book, in 1556, 
there is an entry to the effect that a payment 
of 13s. 4d. was made to the churchwarden, 
named Wombey, for making the rood, and a 
payment of 8s. to a painter from London for 
painting the rood, and the Mary and John, 
also a further payment of 8d. to the said 
"paynter for canvas, and for fire to heat his 

You get frequent allusion to the "rood" in 
the older literature. 

"Now fey the 'rood,' my lovely maid, 
Your courtesy has erred!" he said. 

Scott: "Lady of the Lake," i. 22. 

The " beam" referred to in the " wills" would 
be the beam across the entrance to the chancel. 
It was sometimes used for supporting the 
" rood." 

John Hooman, of Eltham, by will, dated 
26th August, 1466, bequeathed 16d. to the sup- 
port of the light on the beam before the Holy 
Cross (rood). Philip Bryde, in 1457, gave 8d. 
to the same light. 

One of the chapels was dedicated to St. 
Nicholas, and from the "will" of one John 
Brown, gent, who was buried here in 1533, it is 
pretty certain there was a " lady chapel" as 
well. This quaint will gives us so vivid a pic- 
ture of the church furniture and ornaments 
in use at the time that we may well reproduce 



its terms as an example of the use of "wills" 
iu learning history. 

This is how it runs : 

"To be buried in the chappell of our lady in 
Elteham Churche, and I will that my twoo 
vestments, oon of chamlet and another of white 
satten powdred with flowres, an aulter cloth of 
white satten powdered wt flowers, a coppar 
crosse gilt wt the baner or cross cloth belong- 
ing to the same, with the crosse staffe, twoo 
surplcs, twoo masse bokes, a chales of siluer 
wt two corporas and the cases, two latten 
candllesticks and two cruetts of Peawter there 
remayn in the same chappell to the honour of 
our blissed lady for ever. John Brown, gent, 

The old church came to an end rather 
abruptly in the year 1667, on Midsummer's Day, 
through an unfortunate incident. Sir John 
Shaw, who had come tio reside in the mansion 
which he had built for himself in the Park, was 
having a vault constructed for his family along 
the north side of the Church, underneath the 
north aisle. Through the carelessness of those 
who were responsible for the work, precautions 
were neglected for making secure the wall of 
the nave, and the fabric came down with a 

Here is the record: 

"Memo, that while digging to make the vault 
under Sir John Shaw's He, he having obtained 
a faculty for building the said Isle on the north 
side of the Church, the roof of the great Isle 
in the Church not being shored fell down upon 
St. Bartholomew's day, 24th June, 1667, which, 
with the pulpit and pews, were rebuilt at the 
charge of the said Sir John Shaw." 

The scribe here makes a mistake as to the 
day. The 24th of June is St. John Baptist's 
Day, not St. Bartholomew's. 

The old church possessed a clock in 1556, for 
there is a record in the accounts of the payment 
of 6s. 8d. /'paid to the clocke maker for lokinge 
to the clocke and mending of her for this yeares 
eande at Cristmas." 

It also possessed a spire, as the following pay- 
ments show: 

" Payment to Sillrester page the shingler, for 
the Keprashines of the Churche Steaple paid by 
Eobert Stubbes and John Pette churchwardens 
of the Parrish of Elham in the yeare of or Lord 
God 1568. 

It'm paid to Sillvester page, 24 May, iijs. iijd. 
It'm paid to Sillvester page, 28 May, iijl. iija. 

It'm paid to Sillvester page for 200 shingelles, 

It'm paid to Sillvester page for 7 days work 
and 3 men, xxxijs. viijd. 

Sum viijl. vs. iiijd. 

To John Petley for fetchinge the shingles, ijs. 

For MMMM (4,000) of 4 peny naylles from 
London, viijd. 

For a payre of ropes for the shinglers, js. ijd. 

To Eobert Willey for a dayes work, xd. 

For a hundred of naylles, vjd. 

To John Pette for haulf a days worke, vijd. 

To John Clarke for a dayes worke for gather- 
ing rede to make a Cradell for the Stepell, 

Paid for a vaine of copper of the Church 
Steapell, ijs. 

For a bare for the Church Stepell of 25 li., 
ijd., ob a pound, vs. ijd. ob. 

To John Sketes man for a dayes work xd. 

Sum, xiiijs., ixd. ob." 

From this interesting account it will be seen 
that the " shingling" of the spire was an im- 
portant piece of work. A close examination of 
the details also throws a good deal of light 
upon the conditions of labour in Eltham, in 
the days of good Queen Bess. Labour seems to 
have been paid at the rate of lOd. a day. The 
entries also reveal the fact that the Clerk who 
made them was not fettered by cast-iron rules 
in the spelling of the "Queen's English" of 
the day. You may notice that there is a pleas- 
ing variety in the spelling of the word 
" steeple." 

The old church not only possessed a clock, 
but, like many old churches of the time, it had 
its sundial. This, it seems, was the free gift 
of a Vicar of Eltham. 

Here is the tecord: 

" 1572. Received from Sir John Carnicke, 
vicar, towards making ef the dialle of his own 
free gift, iijs." 


Erected by Sir John Shaw (Bart), 1664. 



. ^x . 

- fc - TlvViVwa . 

No. 47 


No. 48. 


No. 49. 




In 1634 it seems that the church and 
churchyard were in need of renovation, so we 
find that a special rate was made to meet the 

"An assesse made by the p'ishioners of 
Eltham for needful reparations towards the 
Churche and Churche yard, A.D. 1634. Sir 
Theodore Mayerne, Knyght, 11; Sir John 
Cotton, Knyght, 16s.; Anthony Rooper, Esq., 
j64 10s.; Pathrick Maule, 1; Wm. Withens, 
gen., 8s.; John Fletcher, gent, 1 10s., &c.> &c." 

A similar assesse for the needful " repara- 
cion" of the church was made in the year 1636. 

A few years after this we find evidence of the 
ascendency of Puritanism in Eltham. The 
Vicar of Eltham, the Rev. Dr. Owen, who has 
already been alluded to in a previous chapter, 
was deprived of his living on account of his de- 
votion to the cause of the Royalists, and a 
Presbyterian divine was made his successor. 

At this time, too, the interior of the church 
underwent great changes. The white-wash 
brush was very much in evidence. There is an 
entry in the accounts: 

"Paid to James Guy for taking down the 
font and stopping up of the glass windows, 
iijs," which is eloquent testimony of the stern 
determination of those responsible for the new 
ordering of public worship to wipe out the 
associations of the past. 

"Samuel Farnaby was paid ,4 10s. for 
plastering and whitening the church and 

This, too, speaks volumes. Whatever there 
may have been in the way of decoration upon 
the walls was effectually obliterated, and we 
may be pretty sure that all the ornaments and 
symbols that had been placed in the church by 
former worshippers there were promptly re- 

We find that in place of the font, a pewter 
basin was provided for use at baptism, and a 
suggestion of what the pulpit discourses were 
like is afforded by the fact that the church- 
wardens, in 1656, found it necessary to provide 
the minister with an hour-glass to time his 
sermons by. 



OLD ELTHAM CHURCH IN 1840 (from a Wood Cut). 




It is only thirty-four years ago that the 
church which was restored in 1667, oil the 
occasion of the catastrophe recorded in our last 
chapter, was pulled down. So there are plenty 
of people still living who can recollect the 
quaint old building, with its antiquated furni- 
ture and fittings, and its not too handsome 
exterior. The shock caused by the fall of the 
nave of the old church seems to have affected 
the whole of the edifice, for the south aisle had 
to be rebuilt. The chancel was probably re- 
built at the same period, or soon after, so that 
the restored church might almost be described 
as a new church. We have in the church- 
warden's accounts a detailed statement of the 
costs of the building of the south aisle, which 
is worth perusing, for the sake of comparison 
with the modern costs of such works. It 

throws a good deal of light upon the conditions 
of life and labour in Eltham two hundred and 
fifty years ago: 

" Imp. pd. for MMM new shingles ivl. vjs. 
vjd. Pd for trimming and laying 
MMMMDCCCC (4900) old ones, vijl. xvijs. 

Pd for MMMM nails viijs. ; use and 
carriage of ladders viijs.; pd Stubbs carpen- 
ter for work upon the steple, ijs.; paid more 
to ye shingler his boy, ijs. vjd. 

Pd Mr. John Guy bricklayer as by an 
agreement for pulling down and rebuilding 
ye South Isle except the carpenters work, 
Ixxvjl.; paid for drawing the agreement xs. 

Pd to Eic. Greene carpenter for pulling 
down the old and putting up the new roof in 
the South Isle, xvl. 



Pd John Guy for tiling the rest of the 
Church that was not pulled down and the 
vestry house xvjl. vs. 

Pd John Guy for pulling down the wall 
between the pillers in the gallery yt was 
formerly shaken by ye fall of ye church and 
for building it again and paving the Isle 
vijl. vs. 

Pd Eic Waters for work and wainscott for 
Peter Stodders and ye rest of ye pewes in 
the church viijl. vs. 

Pd Tho. Merifield for carriage of fower 
trees for the use of the church, xijs. 

From the steady increase in the yearly num- 
ber of baptisms and burials, through the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we may 
gather that the population increased in like 
proportion, and this accounts for the fact that 
in 1819 it was found necessary to increase the 
seating accommodation of the church by the 
erection of two galleries at the west end, the 
further addition of a gallery in the south aisle 
being made some ten years later. 

The Parish Church of Eltham, as it appeared 
in 1830, has been briefly, but graphically, 
described in the "Churches of Kent" by Sir 
Stephen Glynne. The description runs as 
follows: "A mean fabric, much patched and 
modernised; with scarce a trace of anything 
like good work, and from repeated alterations, 
the plan has become irregular. The nave has 
a south aisle, cased in brick, and a north 
chapel of stone, bearing the date 1667, with 
square-headed, labelled windows, and a door of 
mixed Italian character. The chancel was 
wholly of brick. At the west end of the nave 
was a tower of flint, cased with brick, with 
large buttresses and pointed doorway. It was 
surmounted with a spire of wood, covered with 
lead (shingle). Galleries were carried all 
round the interior of the church, and a double 
one at the west end, with an organ. The north 
chapel opened into the nave by three pointed 
arches, with octagonal pillars." 


The building of the present Parish Church is 
a matter of quite modern history, and its story 
is pretty well-known to Eltham people. It is. 

therefore, only necessary to deal with it briefly 
in these chapters, and those who would know 
more of the building of this fine structure 
should turn to the pages devoted to it in 
"Some Records of Eltham," by the Rev. E. 
Rivers, the present Vicar, published in book 
form, a few years ago. Here will be found a 
most interesting account of how the present 
church came into existence, given in great 
detail. Although the necessity of a new church 
was recognised by most people, it was with 
some pangs of regret that they witnessed the 
demolition of the old one. Its historical 
associations were interesting. Within its old 
walls many generations of Eltham people had 
worshipped. By long usage the older wor- 
shippers had become attached to the quaint in- 
terior, with its old-fashioned appointments, its 
antiquated pews, and its " three-decker" 
pulpit, where in olden times the black-gowned 
preachers thumped the cushions and thundered 
aloud their admonitions, until the hour-glass- 
had been run out. But the end came, and old 
Eltham Church was only a memory. 

The foundations of the new church were not 
made to coincide exactly with those of the old 
one. The building stands about ten feet 
further north, which brings the Shaw vault, 
which was underneath the north aisle of the- 
old building, below the nave of the present 
building. It was erected from designs of Sir 
Arthur Blomfield, the well-known architect, 
and son of the Bishop of London, and its style 
is Early English. The first stone was laid on 
the 27th November, 1873, and it was consecrated 
on August 5th, 1875, although it was not 
actually completed until 1880. 

In the Eltham Parish Magazine for January, 
1881, the Rev. W. J. Sowerby, who was Vicar 
of Eltham at the time, gives the following in- 
teresting account of the origin and completion 
of the undertaking : " I took advantage of the 
first issue of the Eltham Parish Magazine in 
1872 to press upon your notice the great neces- 
sity there was for providing increased and im- 
proved accommodation in the Parish Church. 
The proposal to enlarge or rebuild the church 



having been almost unanimously carried at a 
large public meeting there were, if I remem- 
ber rightly, but three dissentients the com- 
mittee appointed to promote this object, had, 
after conferring with A. W. Blomfield, Esq., 
the eminent church architect, recommended to 
the subscribers the rebuilding of the church, 
and obtained their concurrence. This good 
work, then so auspiciously begun, has now been 
brought to a successful issue. On August 5th, 
1875, those portions of the fabric which are 
used for divine worship were consecrated to 
the service of Almighty God, and last year the 
undertaking was crowned by the rebuilding of 
the tower and spire. On the Feast of the 
Nativity of St. John Baptist, 1880, a service of 
thanksgiving for the completion of the work 
was held, in which the Bishop of St. Albans, 
who was present when Sir Charles Mills, M.P., 
laid the foundation stone, and who performed 
the consecration service in 1875, kindly took 
part. It was, indeed, a day of rejoicing 
throughout the village, and one which, judging 
from the great interest that was shown, will 
not soon be forgotten. Most of the shops were 
closed, as on the day of consecration, five years 
before, that all might have the privilege of 
attending the service at the church. I now 
avail myself of the opportunity offered by this 
first issue of a new Parish Magazine to express 
my deep gratitude for the blessing thus 
bestowed upon the people of Eltham, and to 
convey my thanks to all who have aided in 
this good work." 

From the many interesting details referring 
to this great parochial work, given by the Rev. 
E. Eivers, in his comprehensive book, we learn 

that the costs of the building were met by a 
variety of means. On the occasion of the lay- 
ing of the first stone the sum of ,83 19s. lOd. 
was collected, while on the day of consecra- 
tion ,110 Os. 4<1. was contributed in a similar 
manner. The Crown gave ,1,000. The 
parishioners subscribed and collected 8,000. 
The cost of the erection of the south aisle was 
borne entirely by Mr. F. G. Saunders. 
Ori el College (The Eector), gave ,300; 
and the Church Building Society con- 
tributed 200. Then many private 
donors, a large proportion of whom are still 
living, made provision for the internal decora- 
tion, furniture and fittings of the sacred edifice, 
and their names and contributions are duly 
recorded in the book referred to. The fine 
organ, which is so important a feature of the 
church, was erected soon after the re-buildius 
of the church, at a cost of ,1,200, which was 
raised by special subscriptions. It is interest- 
ing to learn that parts of the instrument whicu 
did duty at the old church were built into the 
new organ, which is the work of the well- 
known organ-building firm of Messrs. Willis 

Many more details of an interesting charac- 
ter might be added, but as it is the purpose of 
this story to deal with an older Eltham, this 
brief summary of the building of the new 
Parish Church, which is so familiar a feature 
to all of us. must here suffice. Its great in- 
terest in the Story of Eltham lies in the fact 
that it is the last of a succession of churches, 
which have existed upon the same site, and 
where the parishioners of Eltham have met to- 
gether for the public worship of God, from 
a date so distant that it is lost in the mists of 



It ia rather a pleasant thing, on a summer 
evening, to get out in one or another of the 
Kltham fields, remote enough from the High- 
street to miss the noise of the traffic, but near 
enough to the Parish Church to catch the 
melody of the bells, as it comes floating upon 
the evening air. It is the old melody which 
has greeted the ears of generations of Eltham 
folks, long past and gone. 

If you are disposed to reflection and love to 
ponder over the old customs that serve to link 
the Eltham of to-day with the Eltham of the 
past, and, in your waking dreams, to see again 
the life of those old villagers, to witness some- 
thing of their joys and sorrows, their joustings 
and merry makings, their royal hunts and 
pageants, it is quite likely that the song of the 
bells may quicken your imagination, and help 
you to see these things more clearly. 

It has been said by those who have lived 
abroad in the distant Colonies, that one of the 
things they miss out there, almost more than 
anything else, is the chime of Church bells, 
which is so characteristic a feature in the 
Motherland. Some, perhaps, who read these 
lines, some of our old boys, who are living far 
away in Canada, New Zealand, or other far-off 
parts of the Empire, may still bear witness to 
the truth of this, knowing well how dear to 
them is the memory of the chimes so closely 
associated with the life at home. 

It is this close association with the village 
life, religious and communal, proclaiming, as 
they have done for centuries, its joys and 
sorrows, voicing the emotions of the people, 
and taking so prominent a part in the village 
story, that makes it necessary to devote a chap- 
ter to the bells of Eltham. 

Although there does not seem to be anything 
left in the way of records of the "Bells of 
Eltham " until we come to the fifteenth cen- 

tury, we may assume that the church had its 
bells long before that time, seeing that bells 
had been in use for Church purposes from a 
very early period of history. 

St. Dunstau is said to have encouraged the 
art of bell-founding, and it is recorded that 
while he ruled over the see and province of 
Canterbury, from 954 A.D. to 968 A.D.. he not 
only provided the cathedral with bells, but also 
drew up a series of rules for their correct use. 

There is plenty of evidence to show a pretty 
general use of bells in connection with 
churches even at a period anterior to this, and, 
as a great authority upon the subject has 
written, "for fully a thousand years, we may 
feel certain that Christendom, and England as 
a part of it, has heard the far-reaching tones 
of the bells ring out, now gladly, now sadly, 
across broad acres of field and woodland, and 
over the busy hum of the bustling town. And 
in all that time there has been scarce an event 
of interest in the life of nations or of dis- 
tricts, not many even in the lives of private 
individuals, in which the tones of the bells 
have not mingled with the emotions that were 
aroused thereby." 

" When the bells of Eylstone played 
Their Sabbath music " God us ayde" 
(That was the sound they seemed to speak). 
Inscriptive legend, which, I ween, 
May on those holy bells be seen." 


And the bells of Eltham have played their 
part in national and parochial events, some- 
times sadly, sometimes gladly, as generations 
have come and gone. 

The earliest record that seems to be in exist- 
ence referring to Eltham bells dates back to 
the time of Edward IV. (1467), when an in- 
ventory of Church goods in the county of Kent 
was made, where we find that at Eltham there 



were "Three great bells in the steeple, and 
saunts bell of brass." 

We may explain that a " saunts" or 
"saunce" bell was the name sometimes used 
for the " sanctus-bell," or " sacring-bell." It 
was usually a small bell, used at the altar at 
that point in the celebration of mass, when the 
hymn, "Sancte, Sanote, Sancte, Domine Deus 
Sabaoth," was sung, and it was the signal to 
the people that the prayer of consecration was 
about to be said. It also gave notice that the 
priest was about to administer the Sacrament 
to the communicants. And the " saunts" bell, 
such as that which was in Eltham steeple in 
1497, was to give notice to people in the parish 
who were unable to be present at the celebra- 
tion in the church. John Myric, a quaint 
author of this same period, amongst the many 
things he wrote for the religious edification of 
his fellows, has left the following lines upon 
the external use of the " saunts bell " : 

" If thou may not come to church, 
Wherever that thou do work, 
When that thou hearest a Mass knell, 
Pray to God with heart still, 
To give thee part of that service 
That in the church y-done is." 

There is, of course, no relic of the " saunts 
bell of brass," in the steeple of Eltham Church 
at the present day, but we have a melodious 
peal of six bells, about which we shall pre- 
sently have something to say. 

In the "Bocke of the accountes off the 
Churche Wardens called a Ledgere beginninge 
the xij day of July in the yeare of our Lorde 
Gode 1554," we find so many records of the ex- 
penses of the bells that to copy them all out 
would require many pages of a book. This 
cannot be done, so we will reproduce a few of 
them, from which you may judge of the in- 
terest in and care of its bells which the parish 
has always taken. 

1554. Paid to Robert Esbruke for takinge 
downe of the belle and hanginge of hir upe 
agayne and trussinge of the great bell, iiijj. 

1556-7. Paid to John Bourne senr for making 
of the great bell clappir and the little bell 
clappr and spike for the carpinter for the dogge 
one the newe beame and ij forlocke for the 
great belle over and besides xiiijK. of ould 
irone that he had of the prishe for ij laye upon 
them, vs. 

Item pd to Mills carpinter of Bexley for 
takinge downe of the great belle downe and 
new hanginge of hir vpe and mendinge of the 
bell whill, iijj. iiijd. 

Item geven to the men that did helpe take 
downe the bell and hang hir againe in bread 
and drinke, iiijd. 

1562. Item paid for naylles for the belles. 

Item paid for greasse for the belles, jd. 

Two of the bells were re-cast in 1571 for 7, 
and again in 1610 we get the following account 
of another re-casting: 

1610. The carigge of the grete belle to be 
newe caste M Morrte bell founder dwellinge 
in white cappell wethe owte Allgate being 
agreed wethall for vl. and to deliver ett at the 
wate that he recefed itt att that wass ix 
hundred and a hallefe and att recessing of the 
bell back agane it waied iijzz. and vij li. more 
than it ded before there was iijxx. and iiijK. 
att viijd. the pownd and iijK. at ij*. vid. the 
pownd being called ten and tenglaes (bismuth) 
the holle som is vijM. xs. 

In 1618 the great bell was re-cast, and from 
the following entries we may gather that the 
peal consisted of three bells only: 

1618. Payed att the Warhoeues for waeing of 
the grett bell twies the firest waiett waes ixc. 
iij quartres xx2t. ijM. and a hallef more of the 
mettell waes at the Bell fownderes the second 
waiett or draeft waes viijc. iij quarteres and 
viK. the ij April 1618, viij. 

Payed the iijth day of Aprill 1618 tow 
Thomas Wode, bellwhele carpenter for tower 
ninge all the iij belles faisted in the stockes, 

Payed for all owre expenses there att 
Lowndone for three dayes attending one the 
belle and the fownder 1618, xxixs. iiijd. 

10 April 1618. Pd to Wm Land, belfounder 
in full payment of vl. for casting the great 
bell. vZt. pd to Mr. Warren for making tKe 
bond from the belfounder and his surety for 
the warranting of the bell for a year and a 
day, ijs.; payed for mending of the meddell 
belles clapper xd 

By an examination of these latter entries it 
will be seen that a mention is made of "all 
the three bells," and also a further allusion to 
the "middle bell," from which we may infer 



tkat the number of the peal was no greater 
than three. 

This number, however, was subsequently in- 
creased, and our present peal was the result of 
a re-casting which took place in 179t. 

The firm of bell-founders that carried out 
the work was that of W. and T. Hears, which 
only a few years ago was carrying on business 
under the name of "Hears and Stambank." 
It is one of the most famous firms of English 
bell-founders, having been established by one 
named John Mott, in the year 1570, and in the 
course of tha three centuries and more of its 
existence it has supplied hundreds of bells for 
the churches of Kent. 

The work was carried out while the Eev. J. 
Kenward Shaw (.afterwards Shaw Brooke) was 
Vicar, and Thomas Noyes and William Qlas- 
brook were Churchwardens. The dimensions 
of the six bells are as follows: First, 27iin.; 
second, 29in. ; third, SOJin. ; fourth, 32Jin. ; fifth 
34Jin.; sixth, 37Jin. 

Upon each of the first five bells there appear 
the following names: 


The inscription upon the sixth bell runs 
thus : 


It is only to mention what is known to 
everybody in Eltbam that the bells are chimed 
for Church services, are rung at the chief 
festivals of the Church, and on occasions of 
national or parochial rejoicing. The "death- 
knell" is tolled within twelve hours after 
death, and it is tolled again at the funeral. 
"Tellers" are tolled at the end only, on the 
occasion of the death-knell and also of the 
funeral, and consist of "three times three" for 
a male, and "three times two" for a female. 

Such, then, very briefly told, is the story of 
the Eltham Bells. May the time be very 
distant when they will cease to perform the 
part in our village life which has been their 
function for long ages past. 

The other churches of Eltham are provided 
with bells, which are used to proclaim the time 
of public worship. But none of them is of 
any particular historical interest, except the 
one at Holy Trinity. This was brought to 
England from the Crimea after the great war. 
Its original home was a turret in Sebastopol, 
where it witnessed the incidents of the terrible 
siege, and its voice was familiar to the British 
troops in the trenches. It was afterwards 
secured, found its way to Eltham, and was 
placed in the turret of Holy Trinity when the 
church was built, where it has done its part 
in proclaiming the message of Peace and Good- 

WATCHMEN (from Dekker). 

QUEEN ELIZABETH HAWKING (from Turberville " Book of Falconrie," 1575.) 
By permission of Messrs. MACMILLAN & Co. 



The Parish Registers from which we have 
already taken many quotations are still pre- 
served in the safe of the Parish Church. They 
have grown yellow with years, but most of the 
entries are still legible. They need, however, 
a practised eye to read them, and a great deal 
of patience and perseverance, for the style of 
writing employed by those old-time clerks was 
not the copy-book style of the present day, and 

their spelling, as we have already noticed, was 
not according to any fixed rule, so, as a con- 
sequence, it is of a varied character. It would 
seem, however, that the writers generally tried 
to spell a word as it was sounded, and from 
this we may sometimes come across words that 
were sounded quite differently then from the 
way they are pronounced now. 



Another thing that strikes one is the wide 
parochial duties of the Churchwardens, as com- 
pared with their more limited responsibilities 
in the present day. Their duties now are prac- 
tically confined to the maintenance of the 
fabric, and the arrangements for regular ser- 
vices in the church; but, in the olden times 
it would appear that they financially assisted 
many objects that could not be regarded as 
ecclesiastical. Some of the extracts we are 
going to consider will illustrate this. 

"1562. Paid to the boys for the May-pole, 

The purport of this simple line of cramped 
handwriting in a dingy old book that is seared 
and worn by the use of three and a half cen- 
turies is like a flash of light that reveals a 
landscape on a dark night. It illuminates the 
dark past, and shows us Eltham in the days 
of Merrie England. 

Queen Bess is on the throne Queen Bess, 
look you, who, when a child, played her 
childish games in Eltham fields. It is a time 
when the celebration of the May-day festival 
is in the height of its popularity. What pre- 
parations are made for it! How great is the 
excitement among the boys and girls of Eltham 
as the day draws near! Yes, and among the 
older folks, too, for the whole village turns 
out to take a part in or to witness the May-day 
revels. Eltham youth, enterprising then, as 
now, not only ply the rich for means to pay 
the expenses, but they go to the Church, and 
good Master Churchwarden gives them six- 
pence, and duly enters the payment in the 
account-book. Well done, Master Church- 
warden. Did it occur to thee that thy entry 
and thy sixpence would be gossiped about three 
and a half centuries later? 

May-day eve is come. Little sleep to-night. 
Companies go to the park, and the woods, and 
there spend the first hours of dawn. The 
girls bathe their faces in the morning dew, be- 
cause it makes them beautiful. Then branches 
of the birch and other trees are collected, and 
carrying these, home they come again, singing 
loud, as Chaucer says, "against the sunne 
sheen." "But," says a writer of the time 
"the chiefest jewel they bring from thence is 
the May-pole, which they bring home with 
great veneration. As thus: They have 
twenty or forty yoke of oxen, every 
ox having a sweet nosegay of flowers 
tied to the tips of his horns; and these 

oxen draw home the May-pole which 

they cover all over with flowers and herbs; 
bind round with strings from the top to the 
bottom: and sometimes it is painted with 
variable colours, having two or three hundred 
men, women, and children following it with 
great devotion. And, thus equipped, it is 
reared, with handkerchiefs and flags streaming 
on the top; they straw the ground round about 
it: they bind boughs about it; they set up 
summer halls, bowers, and arbours hard by it, 
and then fall they to banqueting and feasting, 
to leaping and dancing about it." 

"Come, lasses and lads, get leave of your dads, 

And away to the May-pole hie, 

For ev'ry fair has a sweetheart there, 

And a fidler standing by; 

For Willie shall dance with Jane, 

And Johnny has got his Joan, 

To trip it, trip it, trip it, trip it, 

Trip it up and down." 

And where did these things happen? In 
the East Fields, the fields across which the 
new Archery-road now runs, were the village 
butts. It is very probable that these fields 
were also the scene of the May-pole. 

What times they had ! And what picturesque 
groups they made, dressed in their quaint 
Elizabethan dresses! How they enjoyed them- 
selves! You must remember there were no 
railroads then, no newspapers, hardly any 
vehicles for travelling about. People were not 
in so great a hurry then. There was no rush- 
ing about from one place to the other. No 
excursions to the seaside. Every little village 
community was more or less self-contained. It 
found time for its village holidays, and its 
May-day romp was one of the brightest holi- 
days of the year. Cannot you picture this 
May-dal scene in the East-fields in 1562? All 
Eltham was there, you may be sure rich and 
poor. Master John Carnecke, the Vicar, no 
doubt, was there; he that had the sun-dial put 
on the church wall. And who shall deny that 
the Churchwardens themselves were there, 
looking on at the fun? Didn't they subscribe 
sixpence, as the accounts show? 

There are other entries which give us pic- 
tures of Eltham under different conditions. 

"1571. It'm paid to the becone on the xj. 
year, xa." 



" 1572. To mr. bromhed the constapell of the 
hundreth for watchinge the beacone, vjs. iijd." 

1613. Pd. to Wm. leadsman Counstabell cf 
the hundred the monie that the p'ishe of 
Ealtham was sessed at for the Reperation of 
the beacon at Shuters hill and he to paie it to 
Ser tymothie lowe, iij." 

These entries refer to the beacon that was 
kept in readiness on the top of Shooter's-hill, 
to be lighted when it was necessary to warn the 
people that an enemy was approaching. It 
reveals the fact that the Churchwardens were 
also responsible for certain departments of the 
public defence. It would appear from the first 
entry that the year 1571 was the eleventh year 
of the Shooter's-hill beacon. You will notice 
that the duty of watching the beacon fell to 
the constable of the Hundred, and that his ex- 
penses were met by means of a rate upon the 
parish, which was paid through the medium of 
the Churchwardens. 

Master Bromhed was the constable in 1572, 
and his duty of watching was no light one. In 
some parts of the country such a duty was one 
of danger, as well as of great responsibility. 
This was especially the case in the Border 
Land of the North of England. When the 
raiders were on the prowl, and desirous of 
making a descent upon the country without 
alarming the locality they would creep up 
stealthily in the dark, and woe to the watcher 
of a beacon who was not wakeful and alert 
then. Many a poor constable was slain by 
these marauders before he had time to put his 
match to the pile. There does not seem to be 
any mention of such a fate overtaking Master 
Bromhed, and let us hope that he escaped such 
an untimely end, and lived to a good old age. 

But there was such a blaze of beacons in 1588 
as never was known before. For centuries 
after it was the talk of the people, and the 
poet has given us so stirring an account of the 
incident that people are not likely to forget 

it for many centuries to come. It was the 
occasion of the Armada, when the King of 
Spain thought to do such wonders when he 
landed his army on the English shores. He 
made a great mistake. There was no telegraph 
then to flash the news of his coming through- 
out the land. But the beacons of England 
flashed the warning from one end of the 
country to the other. 

When the Eltham constable, on that memor- 
able night, saw the flames of the Blackheath 
beacon lighting the sky, he put a match to the 
pile on Shooter's-hill. This was immediately 
followed by another fire at Erith. Then up 
shot the flames at Euggen (Gravesend), then 
Hailing, Coxheath, and Dungeness. Seeing 
Gravesend alight, Allhallows followed suit, and 
then Egham, and so in a very short time the 
news of an approaching danger had spread 
throughout the county of Kent. 

You may be sure that there was not much 
sleep at the village of Eltham that night, and 
many were the eager inquiries as to the mean- 
ing of this terrible night alarm. How vividly 
has Macaulay described the spread of those 
beacon fires until the whole country was 
covered! You should read his stirring poem 
on the " Armada," from which the following 
lines are taken : 

" From all the batteries of the tower pealed 

loud the voice of fear; 
And all the thousand masts of Thames sent 

back a louder cheer; 
And from the furthest wards was heard the 

rush of hurrying feet, 
And the broad stream of pikes and flags rushed 

down each roaring street; 
And broader still became the blaze, and louder 

still the din, 
As fast from every village round the horse 

came spurring in; 
And eastward straight from wild Blackheath 

the warlike errand went, 
And roused in many an ancient hall the gallant 

squires of Kent." 

LONG BOW ARCHERS (from an old Print). 



In an early chapter, in which we dealt with 
the old Saxon institutions, we alluded to the 
responsibility of the " hundred" in providing 
fighting men for the purpose of mutual protec- 
tion. The Churchwardens' accounts show that 
in the days of Queen Elizabeth this old custom 
was revived, inasmuch as the parish had not 
only to provide its quota of soldiers for the 
" hundred," but had to equip them, and the 
expenses, which were met by a parish rate, 
were paid through the Churchwardens' 

Look through the following list of sundries, 
which were paid in the year 1571, and notice 
how prominently the military equipments 
figure in the expenses: 

" 1571. Paid for a bille, xvjd. 
Paid for a sword girdell, xiijcZ. 

To the soulderie at there goinge out at cer- 
tayne times, viijs. 

For matche and gunpowder, xvj<Z. 

To John Eolt and Edd. Elliate for charges 
for goinge to London to bringe the harnesse, 

Pd. for frise sloppes and jerkinges, xxxv. 
for a couslette (corselet) and a pike, xjs. 
for mending the harnisse, xviijd. 

to Richard bore for the beacone in the xij. 
years, xxx.. 

to the souldiers at Lewsham, xij<Z. 

for ij. guns and ij. morindes (morions), liijs. 

to the soulderie for a sworde and dager at his 
goinge to the shippes, iiijs. 

pd to the counstapell for iijH of poulder, and 
ijli. of matche, and ijli. of shoute, v. id. 

for laise for the flaske and touche boxe, vjrf. 

for conduct moni to the constapell and going 
to the mouster wth the soldirs, vljs. vj<Z. 

for scoweringe the p'rishe harnis, xijs. ijd. 

for floweringe of swordes and dagers, xviijd. 

for carige of a feline (felon) to Maidstone, 

to quen Elizabethe for on fiftene the xiij 
yeare of hir raigen, xlv." 

We have pictured, in our mind's eye, the 
merrie Eltham folk, on May-day, dancing gaily 
about the May-pole in the East Fields. We 
listened, with our mind's ear to the songs, the 



sounds of the pipe and viol, and the peals of 
laughter from the youths and maidens at that 
festive time. We have pictured the scene on 
that memorable night, when the sky was 
lighted by the beacon on Shooter's Hill, and 
tidings of the coming of the Spaniards was 
flashed from hill to hill. Now we can imagine 
what the Eltham men looked like, when they 
were armed to the teeth, and ready to go out 
and fight for Queen and country. 

Let us examine the list of payments given 
above, and see how the picture may be 
lightened. There is the reference to a " cous- 
lette" and a pike. The " couslette" is Church- 
warden spelling for "corselet," and it was a 
kind of breastplate, made of steel or iron, worn 
to protect the front of the body. The wearer 
used to take a pride in keeping it clean and 

" Many a scar of former fight 
Lurked beneath his corselet bright." 

Byron: "Siege of Corinth." 

It was kept securely in its place by means 
of a strap or band, buckled tightly round the 

" A moment now he slacked his speed, 
A moment breathed his panting steed; 
Drew saddle-girth and corselet-band, 
And loosed in the sheath his brand." 

Scott : " Lady of the Lake." 

The "pike" was a very familiar weapon in 
these days, and, indeed, for centuries previous 
to the time, and quite a century later. It con- 
sisted of a lance-head fixed upon the end of a 
pole. The end of the staff had also a spike for 
insertion in the ground, thus enabling the 
musketeer to keep off the approach of cavalry 
while attending to his other arms. In actual 
warfare the "pikemen" took up their position 
behind the " bowmen." If the battalion was 
on the defensive, and was being charged by 
mounted men-at-arms, it was the business of 
the "bowmen" to shoot as many horses of the 
foe as they could, and then to retire behind the 
line of "pikemen," who would present their 
"pikes" to receive the charge. In modern 
warfare, the bayonet has taken the place of the 

The "bille," which, in the account quoted 
cost the Churchwardens Is. 6d., was a formid- 
able looking weapon, somewhat resembling the 
" pike." It consisted of a broad blade, with 
the cutting part hooked like a woodman's bill- 
hook, and with a spike, both at the top and at 
the back. It was mounted on a staff about six 
feet long. Sometimes the blade was varnished 
black to prevent it from rusting. It was then 
known as "Black Bill." In 1584, that is, 
about thirteen years later than the time when 
this entry was made in the Churchwarden's 
accounts, we read, that out of a levy of 200 men 
for the Irish wars, one-fourth were ordered to 
be furnished with "good Black Bills." Who 
knows but some of our Eltham heroes carried 
these terrible weapons in the Irish wars. The 
English "pikemen" and "billmen," like the 
English " bowmen," were famous as warriors. 
Macaulay, in his "History of England," chap- 
ter I., says, " But France had no infantry that 
dared to face the English bows and bills." 

Then two "morindes" are referred to. 
These, no doubt, were "morions." They were 
a kind of helmet, or steel head-piece, shaped 
something like a hat with a brim that turned 
up at the front and the back. It was unlike 
the helmet of the previous and former cen- 
turies. It had no vizor to protect the face. 

"Tis meet that I should tell you now, 

How fairly armed, and ordered how, 
The soldiers of the guard, 

With musket, pike, and morion, 

To welcome noble Marmion, 
Stood in the castle-yard." 

Scott: "Marmion." 

We should bear in mind that there was no 
standing Army in the time of Queen Elizabeth, 
as there is at the present day. The standing 
Army of England, that is, the permanent 
Army, really dates from Cromwell's time. Be- 
fore then, and at the period we are now con- 
sidering, when the nation needed an Army, it 
was raised by means of levy, every " hundred" 
having to provide a certain number of armed 
men. Hence the responsibilities of the parish 
of Eltham, to which these payments refer. 

At the very time that our Churchwarden was 
setting down in this old book the records of ex- 
penditure, there was living a writer named 



William Harrison, who has given us a clear 
and interesting account of England and its 
people, as it existed under his eyes. From 
what he has told us, we can form an accurate 
idea of Eltham life, and we cannot do better, 
just now, than read that part of it which refers 
to the village soldiers which the parish had to 

He tells us that in the previous reign- 
Mary's there was much neglect of the pro- 
vision of arms and soldiers, ami that one of the 
greatest peers of Spain did espy our nakedness 
in this behalf, and did solemnly utter, in no 
obscure place, that "it should be an easy matter 
in short time to conquer England, because it 
wanted armour." 

When Elizabeth came to the throne, and 
Spain had ceased to have great influence at the 
English Court, these words were remembered, 
and steps were taken to bring the national de- 
fence to a state of efficiency. Every " hundred" 
had to look to its duties, and every parish had 
to raise funds for the equipment of its fighting 
men. So Eltham, as the accounts show, con- 
tributed its share to the purchase of arms, 
armour, and ammunition. 

"Our armour," writes William Harrison, 
" differeth not from that of other nations, and 
therefore consisteth of corslets, almaine 
rivets" a light kind of armour introduced 
from Germany, having plates of iron for the 
defence of the arms " shirts of mail, jacks 
quilted and covered over with leather, fustian, 
or canvas, over thick plates of iron, that are 
sewed in the same, and of which there is no 
town or village that hath not her convenient 
furniture. The said armour and munition is 
kept in one several place of every town, 
appointed by the consent of the whole parish, 
where it is always ready to be had and worn 
within an hour's warning." 

Sometimes our Eltham fighting men came 
out on parade, for you will notice that 8s. was 
paid " to the soulderie at there goinge out at 
certayne times," and also 7s. 6d. "for conduct 
moni to the constapell and going to the 
mouster wth the soldirs." No doubt the 
Eltham contingent made a brave show, decked 
out in bright corselet and morion, and armed 

with pike or musket. Hear what William 
Harrison says about these occasions of the 
musterings : 

" Sometimes also it is occupied when it 
pleaseth the magistrate either to view the able 
men, and take note of the well-keeping of the 
same, or finally, to see those that are en- 
rolled, to exercise each one his several weapon, 
at the charge of the townsmen of each parish, 
according to his appointment. Certes, there is 
almost no parish so poor in England (be it 
never so small) but hath not sufficient furni- 
ture in a readiness to set forth three or four 
soldiers, as one archer, one gunner, one pike, 
and a billman, at the least. 

" No, there is not so much wanting as their 
very liveries and caps, which are least to be 
accounted of, if any haste required; so that, if 
this good order may continue it shall be im- 
possible for the sudden enemy to find us unpre- 

Sometimes there would be a national muster 
of the forces. Then, what a stir there was in 
every village! John Rolt, and Edd. Elliate, 
Richard Bore, and other busy men of Eltham 
found plenty to do then. What "scoweringe" 
there was of the "parish harnis!" What in- 
terminable drilling with the "bille" and the 
"pike!" What marching and counter-march- 
ing! What cleaning up of liveries, so that 
"frise sloppes and jerkinges" should appear 
quite spick and span for the inspection of the 
" counstapell," in readiness for the "mouster" 
at "Lewsham!" 

It is really surprising how great an army 
could be raised at short notice by this method 
of levies. On this William Harrison writes 
with some display of enthusiasm. 

"As for able men for service, thanked be 
God!" he says, "we are not without good 
store; for, by the musters taken in 1574 and 
1575, our number amounted to 1,172,674, and yet 
were they not so narrowly taken but that a 
third part of this like multitude was left un- 
billed and uncalled." This was, indeed, a for- 
midable army. If the army of Spain, which 
came for our shores in the great Armada, had 
actually been able to land, they would have 
had so warm a reception from the " bowmen," 



"billmen," and "pikemen" of old England 
that Spain would never have seen them again. 

Not only did the "solderie" carry arms. The 
young men of Eltham who could afford to pur- 
chase a sword or dagger would wear such 
weapons every day. "Seldom shall you see," 
writes William Harrison, " any of my country- 
men above eighteen or twenty years old to go 
without a dagger at the least at his back or by 
his side, although they be aged burgesses or 
magistrates of any city, who, in appearance, 
are most exempt from brabling and contention. 
Our nobility wear commonly swords or rapiers 
with their daggers, as doth every common 
serving man also that followeth his lord and 

Very often this custom gave rise to trouble, 

for hot-terupered or quarrelsome fellows were 
apt to whip out their weapon upon the 
slightest provocation. Says Harrison: 

" Some desperate cutters we have in like 
sort, which carry two daggers or two rapiers 
in a sheath always about them, wherewith in 
every drunken fray they are known to work 
much mischief." 

It is a good thing that the custom of carry- 
ing weapons does not exist now. It is a habit 
of Elizabethan times, which we need not want 
to copy. But we may well admire, and even 
try to emulate, the patriotic spirit of her time. 
And we may derive satisfaction from the fact 
that Eltham, as the Churchwardens' accounts 
plainly show, took her proper share in the 
work of national defence. 


SHOOTING AT BUTTS (from an old Print). 



The following is an interesting entry in the 
Churchwardens' accounts : 

"1566 A.D. It'm, geven at the Church dore 
ija. for Ij. yeres, at the bequeste of Henry 
Kightly according unto his last will and testa- 
ment, the land lieth at popes streate in the 
custoditi of the parrish." 

You will observe that there was a " Pope- 
street" in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The 
entry refers to a charity founded by Henry 
Keightley, who, by his will, dated 20th May, 
1520, appointed that twelve honest men of 
Eltham should take his house and land at 
Pope-street, by estimation 13 acres 3 roods, for 
the use of the highway from Pope-street to 
Church Style, and thence to Mile Oak in 
Eltham, 12d. a year to be paid to the highways 
in Bromley, and the same sum to 12 poor mn; 
a copy of his will on parchment to be hung up 
in the church at Eltham. 

It would seem that the Churchwardens dis- 
tributed the alms, under this will, to the 12 
poor men at the church door. It had appar- 
ently been missed in 1565. So two years' allow- 
ance was paid in 1566. 

" 1566. Paid to Eddy Ellyat at the eating of 
the bucke that was geven to the parrish, xs." 

It does not say who gave this buck to the 
parish. It no doubt came from the Eoyal 
Park, and "the eating" of the same provided 
the good folks of Eltham with a rare festive 
occasion. Why the Churchwardens paid Eddy 
Ellyat 10s. we do not know. We can only 
guess. Folks liked their ale in those days. 
Perhaps Eddy Elliat was a seller of good 

" 1569. Paid for drinke when the quene cam 
thorow the towne for the ringeres, vj<Z." 

We get an entry similar to this, some years 
later, when King James visited the village, and 



frequent reference to amounts paid to the 
ringers for beer for the ringing of peals on 
" coronation days." So far as we can find out, 
there were only three bells in the peal ding, 
ding, dong; but loyal citizens, as the people of 
Eltham always were, and none more loyal than 
the bell-ringers, you may be quite sure that 
the peal of three, when it tickled the royal 
ears, rang out its welcome loudly and well. 
The ringers received twopence each, you 
observe. It does not seem a large amount; but 
a penny went farther in Queen Elizabeth's 
time than it does now. Twopence represented 
more than a draught of ale. 

It is interesting to note that the writer of the 
entry has spelt the word " through" as though 
it were pronounced with two syllables, 
"thorow." This was the pronunciation of the 
time, for in Beaumont and Fletcher, two Eliza- 
bethan writers, we get: 
" On mountains, thorow brambles, pits and 


"Philaster" IV. 

Shakespeare also in " Midsummer Night's 
Dream," makes his fairies sing: 

"Over hill, over dale, 
Thorough bush, thorough brier, 

Over park, over pale, 

Thorough flood, thorough fire." 

Even at so late a period as that of Byron we 
get it sounded in this way, for in his "Heaven 
and Earth," Act I., Scene I., we get: 
" No ! though the serpent's sting should pierce 
me thorough." 

" 1569. Geven to certayn boys at the com'on 
beneath the tyll hous at the out boundes of 
this p'rishe betwine this p'rishe, Wollwich, 
and Charton, ijd." 

This curious item of expenditure seems to 
have reference to the old English custom of 
" Beating the Bounds." At Whitsuntide, the 
clergy, churchwardens, and the boys of the 
parish school used to perambulate the boun- 
daries of the parish. At certain points the 
boys would strike the boundary with willow 
wands. Sometimes, at the more important 
places in the boundary line, the boys them- 
selves would be whipped to impress the matter 
upon their memories. It is quite possible that 

the "certayn boys" of Eltham here alluded to 
had undergone this particular form of memory 
exercise, and that the Churchwardens gave 
them the twopence as some sort of compensa- 
tion. Let us hope that they always remem- 
bered the boundary line of Eltham, " Woll- 
wich" and "Charton." 

" 1569. Paid to roberte Allee for taringe- 
(tarrying) at Woolwiche one after none fore the 
belles to bring them n'home (home) and they 
cam not, ijs." 

It does not appear what bells are referred to 
here, and why they came to be at Woolwich. 
There is a payment recorded in 1571 of ~, for 
the re-casting of the bells. It is just possible 
that Master Robert Allee was sent to Woolwich 
to bring home the bells after the re-casting. 
But he had a disappointing journey, for they 
" cam not." Has it occurred to you, by the 
way, that the journey from Woolwich with a 
load of heavy bells, in those days, was very 
roundabout and troublesome? Master Allee 
would not have come by way of the old Wool- 
wich-road (now Well Hall-road), because in all 
probability it was not in existence then as a 
road for vehicles. He must have gone round 
by way of Kidbrook, and hence along Kid- 
brook-lane, down to Well Hall. It is more 
than likely that this lane was the great road 
which led from Eltham to Greenwich. 

" 1571. for carige of a feline to Maidstone, 

The "feline" here referred to is not a "cat," 
but Churchwarden spelling for "felon." It 
shows that the office of Churchwarden included 
the duty of conveying criminals to the county 
prison. There are other entries of this kind. 

1571.. to quen Elizabethe for on fiftene th& 
xiij yeare of her raigen, xlv." 

The word "on" means "one," and the entry 
refers to a tax, known as the "fifteen penny" 
tax, which the parish had to pay to the Queen 
to meet the necessary expenses of the State. 
This tax probably owed its origin to the 
ancient custom of setting apart "one- 
fifteenth" of one's possessions for the use of 
the King. There are several references to the 
payment of this money. 

. h 
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No. 62. 

Residence of Sir Harry and Lady North. 

No. 63. 

Residence of Mr. E, Warner. 



" 1602. Pd to Normington for the xxix of 
January for reeding servis in time of sickness 
when Mr. Fords hous was vissited, iijs." 

Master Ford was the Vicar of the parish. 
The " sickness" was known as the " plague," 
a terrible and fatal disease which carried off 
a good number of Eltham people. The visita- 
tion, however, was not the " Great Plague," 
which did not occur till 1666, some sixty years 

of the wolf, centuries before, a price was put 
on his head. But the badger was not nearly so 
harmful a creature as he was made out to be, 
and nowadays, people who understand his 
habits, will tell you that he does more good to 
the farmer than harm. He was always a good 
fighter, and the pleasure of hunting him down 
was all the greater, on account of the risks of 
being bitten. But it was cruel sport. No 


after. Here is another allusion to the "sick- 
ness," in the same year. 

"For a here to carry the dead uppon that 
died of the sickness, vjd." 

1623. Sept. 4. Pd. for killing a badger, js." 

"1660. Pd Philip Lock for a badger's 
head, j." 

You will notice that the badger was regarded 
aa an enemy of mankind, and, as in the case 

doubt Master Philip Lock, when he brought 
the head of the victim to the Churchwardens, 
had a most exciting story to tell of ita capture. 

An interesting feature of this entry is that 
it suggests to our minds the rural character of 
Eltham in those days, for the badger loves the 
seclusion of the woods and forests. It is un- 
likely that we should be able to capture a 
badger in the woods of Eltham in our day. 
They are not numerous even in those places 
which are quite remote from the great centres 



of population, for the antipathy to the badger 
is still very strong, and men generally slay 
him if they get the chance. It is interesting to 
note, however, that the badger's first cousin, 
the weasel, has not yet been driven out of 
Eltham. One of these pretty little animals, a 
few years ago, ran along the platform of Well 
Hall station, and crossed the line. Only quite 
recently a gentleman walking along the Well 
Hall-road, on this side of the Herbert Hos- 
pital, counted six weasels, as they crossed the 
road just in front of him. Let us hope that 
these little habitues of the woodlands may re- 
main with us for many a long year to come. 

"1602. Paid to Borne for ringing the viij 
o'clock bell, vjd. 

"1626, Sept. 24. To goodman Bankes for 
ringinge the eight a clocke bell for on quar- 
ter, iijs. iiijd." 

There are frequent references to the ringing 
of this bell, which, as you know, was a relic of 
the old " curfew," introduced by William the 
Conqueror. This bell is still rung in many 
places in England. 

"1614. Geven to a poore man that was 
robbed att Shoutershelle of all that he had and 
howndered iniell home, vj." 

Shooter's Hill, you will see, had a reputation 
for robberies, even as far back as the time of 
King James. The " poore man" was, indeed, 
in a parlous state. To be a hundred miles 
from home, without means, was a more serious 
matter than it would be now. He would have 
no way of getting over that hundred miles, 
except by trudging it on foot. No wonder the 
Churchwarden's heart was warmed, and that 
he gave him sixpence. But there are frequent 
items shewing payments on account of charity. 
Here is one relating to a rather horrible 
circumstance : 

" 1629, May 13. Geven to a poore man that 
had his tonge cut out by the Turckes, j*. vjd." 

There are many items referring to the main- 
tenance of the church, and its services, and 
such matters as the provision of vestments, the 
purchase of " a communion cope and covere," 
"a boke called the omilles," "Elles of li oil and 
for to make surplies," and " the payment of 
goodwyfe Wington for makinge the surplies." 
But these things fall naturally within the 
sphere of a Churchwarden's business as we 
recognise it to-day. The selections we have 
given are intended to show how, in those early 
days, the church was in reality the centre of 
the parish, and its officers the servants of the 




Here are more notes from the Church- 
wardens' accounts which are of special in- 

" 1602. Paid to Goodman Borne and William 
the school master for keeping the clock that 
quarter that he rang the bell from St. Christ- 
mas to the Lady Day, vja." 

"1605. Paid to goodman Wyborne for 
charges of the cominge of the Kinges majestie 
into the towne and for ringinge one the byrthe 
daie of the younge prinse and for charges of 
Schoolmasters the xviiij of June 1605 latteses 
for the skole wyndowes, vj." 

These are the first references to a school- 
master in Eltham. It is said that, as in the 
case of many other parishes, the school was 
held in a room over the porch of the church. 
In some village churches this room is still pre- 
served, and on the walls may be sometimes 
found the alphabet, painted in old English 
characters, by means of which the ancient 
domine would teach the rudiments of reading. 

The second entry, which refers to the cost 
of " latteses for the skole wyndowes," seems 
in some measure to suggest a separate building 
as the school. It will be seen that "William 
the Skolemaster" combined the profession of 
bell-ringer with that of pedagogue. If the 
truth were known, it is probable that his 
parochial work was even more comprehensive, 
for the parish school-master in olden days was 
often the parish letter-writer, the measurer of 
land, and the keeper of accounts for his neigh- 

There are occasional allusions to expenses in 
connection with "processions." For example: 

"1629. May. Paid for the bread and beer 
for the parishenores that went in the- 
presecione^ iijs. ijd." 

Then again: 

"1674. Apr. 14. Ordered in vestry in th& 
parish church of Eltham that no church- 
wardens for the future shall expend more than 
fiftie shillings in his precessioning but shall 


pay the rest out of his own purse. (Clement 
Hodson, Vicar.") 

In some of the ancient wills, such as those we 
have alluded to in an earlier chapter, we find 
mention of these " processions," and of sums 
of money being left for the purpose of provid- 
ing bread or ale, or both, for the poor and 
others who took part in them. These annual 
events were, therefore, rather notable occasions 
in the village history, and we might as well 
make some inquiry as to what they were, to- 
gether with their object, in order that we may 
be able to form some mental picture of the 

The object of the processions which took 
place in "Rogacion Weke," that is, on one of 
the three days immediately preceding Ascen- 
sion Day, is pretty well explained in the follow- 
ing quaint lines from an old book. Let us read 
them : 

"That ev'ry man might keep his owne posses- 

Our fathers us'd, in reverent Processions, 
(With zealous prayers, and with praisefull 


TJ walke their parish-limits once a yeare; 
And well knowne markes (which sacrilegious 


Now cut or breake) so bord'red out their lands, 
That ev'ry one distinctly knew his owne; 

And many brawls, now rife, were then un- 

From this we may see that the "procession" 
was the more ancient form of the custom which 
subsequently became known as "Beating the 
Bounds." An old writer upon antiquities 
Bourne says that it was a general custom for- 
merly, and was still observed in his time, in 
eome country parishes, to go round the bounds 
and limits of the parish on one of the three 
days before Holy Thursday, of the Feast of our 
Lord's Ascension, when the minister, accom- 
panied by his Churchwardens and parishioners, 
was wont to deprecate the vengeance of God, 
and, invoking a blessing upon the fruits of the 
earth, to pray for the preservation of the rights 
and properties of the parish. 

Shaw, in his history of Staffordshire, has left 
us a description of these interesting proceed- 
ings, as they were carried out at Wolverhamp- 

ton. "The sacrist, resident prebendaries, and 
members of the choir, assembled at Morning 
Prayers on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation 
AVeek, with the charity children, bearing long 
poles, clothed with all kinds of flowers then in 
season, and which were afterwards carried 
through the streets of the town with much 
solemnity, the clergy, singing men and boys, 
dressed in their sacred vestments, closing the 
procession, and chanting, to a grave and appro- 
priate melody, the Canticle, Benedicite, Omnia 
Opera, &c." 

He describes the custom as of very ancient 
origin, adopted by the first Christians, and 
handed doAvn, through a succession of ages, to 
modern times. The idea was to give thanks 
to God, "by whose goodness the face of nature 
was renovated, and fresh means provided for 
the sustenance and comfort of His creatures." 

So the procession was, in the first place, a 
distinctly religious ceremony. At appointed 
places, generally at the crosses, the Gospel 
would be read. We have direct evidence in the 
wills alluded to that this was done in the 
Eltham procession, and we may easily picture 
to ourselves the Eltham villagers in those old 
times wending their way from point to point, 
Wyatt's Cross, the cross on Shooter's Hill, and 
other resting places. 

Hasted, in his "History of Kent," writes: 
" There is an old custom used in these parts, 
about Keston and Wickham, in Rogation 
Week, at which a number of young men meet 
together for the purpose, and with a most 
hideous noise, run into the orchards, and, in 
circling eacn tree, pronounce these words : 

'Stand fast, root; bear well, top; 
God send us a youling crop; 
Every twig, apple big, 
Every bow, apple enow.' " 

For which incantation the confused rabble 
expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is 
no less welcome; but if they are disappointed 
of both, they, with great solemnity, anathema- 
tize the owners and trees with altogether as 
insignificant a curse." 

This old Kentish custom was probably a 
corrupted form of the Rogation ceremonies 
which we have been considering. 



Although the processions were, in the first 
place, of a religious character, and designed 
for a good purpose, in the course of years they 
came to be abused and debased. It is to be 
feared that drunkenness and other excesses be- 
came common. When, on April 14th, 1614, the 
Rev. Clement Hodson, Vicar of Eltham, as 
Chairman of the Vestry, signed the minute 
which we have quoted, limiting the allowance 
to the Churchwardens for the processioning, to 
" fiftie shillings," we may well believe that so 
strong a course had to be taken for some good 
reason, not stated; but we may read between 
the lines. It is more than likely that some 
straight talk took place at that Vestry meeting. 

In an old book called " Epistles and Gos- 
pelles, &c., London, imprinted by Richard 
Bankes," we get a sermon which throws great 
light upon the view taken of processions, just 
before they went out of fashion. The preacher 

" Alacke, for pitie ! these solemne and accus- 
tomable processions and supplications be nowe 
growen into a right foule and detestable abuse, 
so that the moost parte of men and women do 
come forth rather to set out and shew them- 
selves, and to passe the time with vaigne 
and unprofitable tales and mery fables, than to 
make generall supplications and prayers to 
God, for theyr lackes and necessities. I wyll 
not speake of the rage and furour of these up- 
landysh processions and goings about, which be 
spent in ryoting and belychere. Furthermore, 
the Banners and Badges of the Crosse be so un- 
reverently handled and abused, that it is 
merveyle God destroye us not in one daye." 

It is no wonder that " processioning " got 
into bad repute, and ultimately ceased to be 
recognised as being respectable. Let us hope 
that in Eltharu it was not so badly abused as to 
merit so stern a condemnation as that of the 
old preacher. 

There is one writer in these Parish Records 
who wrote a good, firm " hand." This was 
John Fourde, who was Vicar of Eltham from 
1598 to 1628 thirty years. If hand writing be 
any key to the character of the writer, Master 
John Fourde would have been a man of very 
decided opinions. There are several entries 

made by him which are of an interesting char- 
acter, for they throw light upon the relations 
that existed between the Vicar and Sir William 
Roper, the Squire of Well Hall. Sir William 
was a Roman Catholic, and the Vicar was a 
Protestant of a very pronounced character. 
This is the Vicar's note: 

" Memorand, that Mr. Wm. Rooper holdeth a 
certain parcel of wood, amongst his woods, 
called the Vicar's spring, containing by esti- 
mate 15 acres, and payed for the same 15s. a 
year, as a most ungodly lease expresseth more 
at large. I leave a memorial to all Vicars suc- 
ceeding after me, for there are yet so many 
years in the lease to come, being granted in 
the third of K. Edw VI. by one Sir Henry 
Underwood, Vicar of Eltham, for four score 
and nyneteen yeers by me, John Forde, Vic. 
of Eltham, 44 Elizab. A.D. 1602." 

But this " most ungodly lease " was not the 
only grievance which the Vicar had against Sir 
William Roper. The following note reveals 
another of quite a serious character. Master 
Forde writes: 

"The Vicar's diet at Mr. Rooper's table was 
dew to all Vicars for the aforesaid wood till 
Sir William Rooper came, but then denied to 
me, John Forde, Vicar, although justified unto 
me by his one moother. John Forde." 

And the Squire of Well Hall was not the only 
offender. Even King James wronged the Vicar, 
as the register shews : 

"It is said that the Vicar of Eltham should 
have the tithes of hay and corn on the south 
side of the town of Eltham, and that there is a 
bay and a door at the west end of the barn to 
enter and place the Vicar's hay and corn tithes, 
which is said to be lost." 

"King James took in another parcel of 
ground into the Middle Park in 1615, about 22 
acres, which are worth yearly to me John 
Forde, Vicar, 40s. the tithe of it, but with 
much ado I am allowed to me and my suc- 
cessors 20s. a year." 

The barn referred to in this note is, of course, 
the old tithe barn which abutted on the church 
yard at the west end of the church. It was 
destroyed by fire in the year 1872. 




The bitter hatred, or perhaps prejudice, of 
Master Forde against the Eoman Catholics is 
shewn in a note in which he describes an event 
in London in 1623. It has no connection with 
Eltham, and the fact that the Vicar thought fit 
to set it down in the Parish Register is some 
evidence of the strong opinions he held. He 
writes : 

"Let this be a pittifull remembrance to all 
posterityes, that in the yeare of our Lord 1623, 
the 26 day of October, in the 21 yeare of Einge 
James his reigne, there lay a frenche 
imbassidor in the black friers in London, who 

beinge at masse the same saboth day in the 
at'ternoone with a multitude of blinde 
ignorant people, their fell in yt chappell in his 
house a gallery in the said chappell, yt crushed 
to deathe fower score and sixteen soules, be- 
sides a gret multitude yt had ther armes and 
legs broken, so muche was God offended with 
there detestable Idolatrie." 
* * * 

We will now close the Parish Registers for a 
while and proceed to the consideration of those 
associations which give to our village the right 
to be called " Royal Eltham." 

QUEEN ELIZABETH'S COACH (from Braun's "Civitates Orbis Terrarum" 1572). 
By permission of Messrs. MACMILLAN & Co. 




We enter now upon a new phase of our story. 
Mnch that we have been considering in the 
last twenty-two chapters, although Eltham his- 
tory, and the kind of history that must not be 
overlooked in the telling of the village story, 
is common in other country places which have 
their old churches and their parish records, 
their manors, and hundreds and moots. Now 
we come to the consideration of the great his- 
torical feature of Eltham, which specially dis- 
tinguishes it from other villages, the Royal 
Palace, for three centuries the abode of the 
English kings, the scene of notable events that 
form part of the nation's story, the home of 
chivalry, the theme of many a poet's song. 

It would be well, perhaps, at this point to 
explain briefly the plan we have followed, and 
propose to continue, in the telling of the Tale 
of Eltham. It was found to be impossible to 
tell the whole tale in chronological sequence; 
so we are taking it in sections. Eltham pos- 
sesses features of interest that are associated 

with the recognised periods of English history, 
from the British and Roman times to the pre- 
sent day. We have taken these features in the 
order of their antiquity. The " Old Dover- 
road" is a link with British and Roman days. 
The name of " Eltham," the " Common," the 
"Manor," the "Hundred," all associate it 
with the Saxon or earliest English period. Cer- 
tain references in "Doomsday," shew our re- 
lations with the later Saxon or English period; 
other references from the same source shew the 
effect of the Norman Conquest upon the 
village. "The churchyard" probably date* 
back to a period long anterior to the Conquest. 
Though there may have been a Saxon Church- 
most likely (here was the first mention we get 
of a church was subsequent to the Conquest. 
That was why we dealt with the churchyard 
before we considered the church. 

It may have been noticed that in the earlier 
chapters we have generalised considerably. 
This was necessary, in order to attain th 



object we had in view. Our aim has been to 
interest the young people in the history of 
Eltham, and through that history to get an 
occasional glimpse of the history of 
their country. A mere record of names 
and events and statistics, however use- 
ful it may be to the well-read his- 
torian or antiquarian, would not alone do for 
this purpose. So we have tried to excite the 
imagination, and, by the description of the old- 
time habits and customs, to help the reader to 
make a mental picture of some phases of life 
as it was lived in those by-gone times. 

Let us now proceed to the Court-yard, along 
the avenue of lime trees, and take up our posi- 
tion for a while upon the wonderful old bridge 
that spans the moat, and before we make any 
attempt to describe the many great events that 
took place here through those long centuries 
that the Palace was a royal residence, let uo 
look around and examine as best we can the 
relics that are left to us from that distant age. 

Perhaps these well-worn stones, the moat 
deep down here, or the old grey ruins yonder, 
if rightly appealed to, may quicken our percep- 
tion and enable us to look backward and see 
some of the strange things that they have wit- 
nessed. Look at the moat. You will notice 
that the water is not a great width. On each 
side is a fresh, green lawn, and its sloping 
banks are richly covered with vegetation. The 
brown autumn leaves are falling, and men are 
sweeping them from the lawn. From this 
point of 'vantage we almost see the extreme 
ends of the water-way. The scene is very 
beautiful. Visitors from afar come and linger 
upon this old bridge, and feast their eyes upon 
the spectacle, and take away photographs to 
grace their albums at home. It is a scene of 
quietude and peace, which is all the more effec- 
tive, existing as it does almost within the hear- 
ing of the hum of the great city. But this was 
not its character in its early days. It en- 
circled the whole of the area upon which the 
Palace stood, for it was made for the purpose 
of defence. It was made. There was little or 
no natural depression here for a moat. It had 
to be dug out with spade and pick. Military 
art of the time supplied the deficiencies of 
nature. On its inner side there rose a wall, 

difficult to assail; and the outer bank, which 
was the work of great labour and expense, was 
an effective bulwark. It was, however, less 
formidable on the side where the gateway stood 
the side where we now stand than on its 
western side. It's water, too, was not confined 
within narrow limits, as now. There was no 
lawn then. It was deep, and rose up the sides, 
and its breadth varied from sixty to one 
hundred and fifteen feet. By the way, do you 
know how the moat was supplied with water? 
It comes from the springs in the Warren, 
where the golfers play. From thence it is con- 
ducted to the conduit in the meadow near Holy 
Trinity Church, and from the conduit it comes 
down to the moat. There again, you see, art 
had to be called in to supply the deficiences 
of nature. 

The approach to the Palace was over the 
bridge on which we stand, and through the 
gateway which stood at the inner extremity. 
Notice what a handsome structure the bridge 
is, with its strong abutment and four well-pre- 
served arches. It is worthily the admiration 
of all lovers of architecture. It is remarkable 
for the elegance of its design, and the strength 
and soundness of its construction. The arches 
vary in dimensions and are groined, and the 
piers are sustained by angular buttresses. 

But this was not the original bridge. We 
may assume that the first builders of the 
Palace put a drawbridge across the moat, as 
was the custom of the times, providing, as it 
did, a surer means of defence. Such a bridge 
would not, of course, have been of stone. But 
though the ancient drawbridges were necessary 
for the security of houses such as that of 
Eltham, as well as of castles of defence, they 
gave way to structures similar to this, when 
military methods had changed, and it waa 
found that elegance in domestic architecture 
could be safely combined with strength. 

The present bridge dates from the time of 
Edward IV. (1461 to 1485), who had it built 
when he enlarged and improved the Palace 
itself. It is of the same age as the Great Hall. 
So you see it has stood the wear and tear of 
over four hundred years. To all appearances it 
is as secure now as ever it was, and is a lasting 



Tbu GruunJ Plat <fPa.Tt tfl/u dntunt Palace aeEIOxim 
' D.I6SO 

A. The Bridge over the Moat. B. The Tilt Yard. The break shown in the wall, the Ancient Gate 

C. The road leading to Bridle Lane. 

The Bake House is the site of the old dwelling (Court Yard House), now occupied by Capt. Holbrooke. 
The Chandry site, or thereabouts, is now occupied by Langerton House, residence of Mrs. Gordon. 
The Chancellor's Lodging, very much in its original condition, now forms the residences of 
Mrs. Milne, Misses Bloxam, and Misses Brookes. (See photographs). 



memorial to the excellent work of the builders 
of those days. 

The old gateway, which stood at the inner 
extremity of the bridge has gone. But, writing 
in the year 1828, Mr. J. C. Buckler, who made a 
close and exhaustive study of the Palace as it 
was then, says: 

" An inconsiderable fragment of the gateway, 
joined to the bridge on its eastern side, re- 
mains. In Buck's Views, published more than 
a century ago, the entire building is repre- 
sented. Its gradual demolition seems to have 
been effected as the ruins of the Palace yielded 
to convenience, and the ground was required for 
farming operations. 

"Till the year 1813 two venerable, but im- 
perfect, stacks of brick chimneys, one on each 
side of the way, were preserved. Since that 
date one of these relics, with the wall on which 
it stood, has been entirely removed, and the 
other so much defaced that it will scarcely be 
noticed by those who remember how much 
these fragments of well-wrought brick-work 
formerly contributed to the picturesque beauty 
of the view from the bank of the moat." 

Commenting further upon the gateway, Mr. 
Buckler continues: 

" These might have been portions of the work 
of King Henry the Seventh, who, however, can- 
not be supposed to have entirely re-built the 

gate-house; for we are informed that there was 
a palace here long. before the time of Anthony 
Beke, Bishop of Durham, and that he only re- 
paired, rebuilt, and beautified it, when it came 
into his hands, and (as Harris has written) 
'the stone work over the outward gateway 
looks of that age.' 

"Another writer (Philpott) says, 'The stone 
work of the outer gate, being castle-like, is a 
remnant of the work of the age in which that 
prelate (Beke) lived." 

"Of its antiquity, or the predominant 
material of its walls, I can say nothing," con- 
tinues Mr. Buckler, "but its form and extent 
may be imagined from the ancient plan of the 
part of the Palace published by Hasted. In 
Buck's print there is only one archway in 
front; but the plan shews two, that is, a large 
arch and a postern, with rooms on the side and 
two staircase towers." 

So, if we walk across the bridge to its inner 
extremity, remove from our view in imagina- 
tion, of course the cottage on the right, and 
the house on the left, erect in their places the 
great archway, with its castle-like summit, its. 
"stair-case towers" and rooms, its front gate, 
and its postern gate, we may almost fancy our- 
selves standing at the old gateway, seeking per- 
mission of the ancient porter to pass into the 
court beyond, upon the further side of which 
the "Great Hall" stands out in all its glory. 



Passing beneath the "castle-like" gateway, 
which, in the days when the Palace was a 
Royal residence, stood at the inner extremity of 
the bridge, you would have entered a court 
surrounded by buildings; and on the opposite 
side of this court, immediately in front of you, 
was the doorway of the great hall, which is so 
familiar a sight to us all to-day. The hall was 
really a part of .the central pile of the buildings 
which made up the Palace itself, but it is the 
only important part which is left to remind 
us of its former glory. 

The Date. There is a record that King 
Edward IV., " to his great cost, repaired his 
house at Eltham," and there is sufficient evi- 
dence to shew that the great hall in front of 
us formed a portion of the improvements to the 
Palace carried out by that monarch. As we 
have already noticed, a Palace existed here 
centuries before Edward's time, but he seems 
to have been the first monarch who went to the 
expense of repairing and adding to it. 

Edward IV. did much to encourage architec- 
ture, and, scattered about the country are 
many fine buildings, ecclesiastical and 
domestic, which were erected during his reign. 
Somerset and other counties are specially rich 
in the architecture of this period, and St. 
George's Chapel at Windsor, King's College 
Chapel at Cambridge, and the fine ruin at 
Eltham are monuments to the personal in- 
fluence of the King in erections of this kind. 

Although no positive date is given of the 
building of the great hall, we have no diffi- 
culty in assigning it to King Edward IV.'s 
time. The architecture bears the stamp of the 

latter half of the fifteenth century, and evi- 
dence, even more direct, is found in the badge 
of a rose en soleil, which is a conspicuous orna- 
ment in the "spandrels," or spaces, to the 
right and left of the archway at the entrance 
in front of us. This was one of the badges of 
Edward IV., and it is frequently met with in 
architecture of that period. There is a beauti- 
fully carved example among the ornaments to 
the lower gateway of Magdalene College, Ox- 
ford, another at Queen's College, also at 
Keynsham Church, near Bristol Keynsham, 
whose abbot, by the way, centuries before re- 
ceived the rectorial tithes of Eltham another 
at Wells, and so on. 

A Master Feature. Mr. J. C. Buckler, the 
distinguished architect, who in 1828 made a 
detailed examination of the whole area enclosed 
by the moat, describes the hall as the master 
feature of the Palace. With a suite of rooms 
at either extremity, it rose in the centre of the 
surrounding buildings, as superior in the 
grandeur of its architecture as in the mag- 
nificence of its proportions and the amplitude 
of its dimensions. He adds, "this fair edifice 
has survived the shocks which, at different 
periods, have laid the Palace low. Desolation 
has reached its very walls, and the hand of 
wanton mischief has dared to injure where it 
could not destroy; but still the hall of Eltham 
Palace has not, with the exception of the 
loover, been entirely deprived of its smallest 

The Quadrangles. It was thought that there 
were four courts within the enclosed area, two 
in the north, and two in the south division, 



and the conjecture arose from the belief that 
the kitchen and other offices connected with 
it, and lying east of the great hall, were 
screened from the north and south quadrangles 
on the sides of which were ranged the state 

The north side of the hall, that is, the side 
facing the bridge, and the south side, now 
facing the lawn, were both open to quadrangles. 
Their architecture corresponded precisely, 
excepting that the south parapet was plain, 

the elegant simplicity of design, and this 
specimen of the Palace shews how well the old 
builders could apply the style to domestic 
purposes; 'how far removed from gloom were 
their habitations, where defensive precautions 
could be dispensed with, and how skilfully they 
carried out whatever they undertook in archi- 

The Proportions. The proportions of Eltham 
Hall, and the harmony of its design, are evi- 
dences of the care and skill of its builders. 


while that on the other side, facing the prin- 
cipal gate, was embattled, and the cornice en- 
riched with sculptured corbels. Mr. Buckler 
adds that, at the time of his writing, " not a 
portion of either parapet now remains to prove 
this assertion, though both were nearly perfect 
twenty-five years ago (1803)." They are repre- 
sented as here described, in ancient drawings 
in the King's library, in Buck's print, and in 
the sixth volume of the Archseologia. 

Simple Design. In this majestic structure 
the architect scrupulously avoided the frequent 
use of carvings, which would have destroyed 

Other halls may surpass it in extent, but this, 
is perfect in every useful and elegant feature of 
a banqueting room. It was well lighted, and 
perhaps required painted glass to subdue the 
glare admitted by two-and-twenty windows. 
There are no windows over the high pace (the 
dais or platform at the end opposite the screen) 
and none over the screen. This was usual, 
though, from unavoidable circumstances, West- 
minster Hall and the Guildhall have windows 
at the ends. The placing of the hall, too, with 
its extremities pointing east and west, as in the 
case of chapels, was in accordance with a 
general custom. 



The Windows. The windows are arranged in 
ccuples. in five spaces on both sides, occupy- 
ing the length of the building, from the east 
wall to the angle of the bays. Every window is 
divided by a mullion (an upright bar), with- 
out a transom (horizontal bar), and every 
space by a buttress, which terminates below the 
cornice, and at the foot of the windows has 
twice the protection of the upper half. 

The Buttresses. These supports are slender, 
and are of the same light and elegant propor- 
tion which is a characteristic of the whole 
building. The walls alone are adequate to the 
weight of the roof, but their strength is in- 
creased by the buttresses, which are common to 
the ancient style of architecture, and were fre- 
quently used for ornament when their support 
was not necessary. The buttresses of Eltham 
are both useful and ornamental; and "as if to 
determine for which purpose they were mostly 
required, several of those facing the south are 
mangled or destroyed." 

The Walls. Since Mr. Buckler's time much 
of the decay has been arrested, and the build- 
ing partially restored, but writing of the walls, 
in 1828, he says : " The building furnishes a 
strong proof of the scientific powers of former 
architects; it shews how accurately they calcu- 
lated between the support and the weight sup- 
ported, and though we look with some surprise 
at the thinness of the walls which have for so 
many centuries upheld the vast roof of timber, 
yet we must be satisfied that it was an under- 
taking of no temerity, since the walls would 
still have stood as erect as when first built, if 
the external covering of the roof had not been 
wholly neglected, or only imperfectly repaired; 
and so far from exhibiting a fissure through 
decay, it is difficult in some parts to trace the 
joints in the masonry; nor is the carved work 
less perfect." 

It will interest many, especially those who 
are engaged in the building trade, to learn that 
inaccuracies in measurements exist in the 
spaces between the buttresses. They have not 
been marked out with the scrupulous accuracy 
which modern work of the kind demands. 
"But," as our authority says, "the difference 
does not exceed three inches, and would defy 

the closest observer to detect. If the ancients 
disregarded these minute particulars, which, it 
must be confessed, were of no consequence to 
the general effect, they were studious to ensure 
the firmness of their buildings, and 1 the beauty 
of their design." 

The Bay Windows. The bay windows at the 
western end nearly complete the length of the 
hall, which on the inside is a few inches over 
one hundred and one feet in length, and thirty- 
six and a half feet in width. The shape of the 
bays was an "oblong square," and their pro- 
portions nearly that of a double cube, having 
in front two windows, and one towards the 
east. The opposite ends of both bays were 
joined to the walls of the house; and, though 
concealed from view externally, presented in- 
ternally a uniform appearance. The manner 
in which these appendages are united to the 
main walls is singular, and, on the outside, 
where alone the contrivance is observable, cer- 
tainly inelegant. The side windows of the bays 
are, in fact, recessed in the wall of the hall, 
with which the basement below, and the 
parapet above, meet in a right angle. On this 
account nearly half of one compartment of the 
window is concealed from view, but a moment's 
inspection of the interior will shew the reason. 

The architect's aim was to maintain strict 
regularity of design, and to produce as much 
lightness as was consistent with stability. 
These points are now perfectly gained. An 
arch of exquisite delicacy extends over the space 
between the bays and the hall, in the place of 
one proportioned to the substance of the main 
wall, thus securing the lightness of character 
which was designed. 

The Doors. The chief door of the hall faces 
the north, and was nearly opposite the outer 
gateway by the bridge. There is another door 
on the south side. Both opened into a vesti- 
bule formed by a screen. A rigid economy in 
the application of ornaments was exercised in 
the outside of the buildings. Both parapets 
were not embattled, and both doorways on the 
same account were not ornamented. That on 
the south side is a plain arch unworthy of the 
edifice to which it belongs. The other adorns 
the building and exhibits the workmanship of 



a hand no less skilful with the chisel than that 
with the pencil which traced the design. 

The doorway facing the bridge, which is 
familiar to every visitor, consists of a square 
frame, protected by a cornice, and an arch 
deeply recessed within its mouldings, resting 
on pillars. An elegant pattern of tracery, en- 
circling the rose en soleil enriches the 

This is still the principal entrance, and the 
shattered screen within still secures the hall 
from sudden intrusion. Though these door- 
ways have never been sheltered by porches, yet 
the necessity of something to answer this pur- 
pose seems to have been felt. This substitute 
was probably a cove, or canopy of wood, sup- 
ported on two stone corbels, which in Mr. 
Buckler's day were still in existence just above 
the southern doorway. 




Let us now enter the Great Hall, and under 
the enthusiastic guidance of Mr. Buckler 
examine its chief features. 

The Interior. " The interior is magnificent," 
writes Mr. Buckler, "the taste and talent of 
ages are concentrated in its design, and it is 
scarcely possible to imagine proportions more 
just and noble, a plan more perfect, ornaments 
more appropriate and beautiful, in a word 
more harmonious than this regal banqueting 
room." Then follows a graphic description of 
the hall as it appeared to him in the year 

"It requires great strength of imagination 
to picture this glorious room in its pristine 
state ; the long and lofty walls clothed with rich 
tapestry, and here and there decorated with the 
trophies of war, or those of the chase, the 
canopy of state, hanging oyer the high pace 
at the upper end, and all its other enrich- 
ments; for on this honoured station are now 
seen the various instruments of agriculture; 
and between the two bay windows, whose deli- 
cate mullions were enclosed by painted glass, 
rich in historical groups and heraldic devices, 
and whose ample breadth shed a profusion of 
light around the seat of royalty, the sun no 
longer shines but through the crevices of brick 
and wood-work, which supplies the place of 

" The slender stone tracery, wrought with 
all the nicety of art, and so carefully preserved, 
is now clustered with cobwebs, where the stone 
has been permitted to remain. The screen, 
once sumptuously carved and painted, and fur- 
nished with all the instruments known to the 
age, is now a broken and almost shapeless 

frame. The floor, once well covered with tables 
of massy carved oak work, and prepared to 
administer to thousands (for King Edward the 
Fourth kept splendid Christinas here, two 
thousand being feasted at his expense every 
day), is now an uneven bottom, piled with 
machines of husbandry and rubbish these are 
a few of the changes which three centuries 
and a half have produced in the hall of Eltham 

It is a satisfaction to know that the hall 
does not now present such an appearance of 
neglect. Soon after these lines were written, 
the authorities employed Mr. Smirke to com- 
mence the work of restitution. 

The Roof. " Though now the most perfect, 
and always the most splendid part of the in- 
terior, the roof has suffered its proportion of 
injury. Many of its most delicate enrichments 
have been removed, but, as its chief ornaments 
are the constituent members, and not the 
minute carved work, these remain entire, and 
compose a design which merits, and continues 
to receive, as much praise as any existing work 
of antiquity." 

Those who are interested in details of con- 
struction will notice that the principal beams 
of the roof repose on the summit of the walls 
which are crowned with a broad and boldly 
projecting cornice of numerous mouldings. 
Every one of the frames thus formed, amount- 
ing to seven, includes a wide spreading arch, 
within and intersected with which are the 
handsome arches composing the essential 
features of the design, and the side segments, 
resting on brackets which terminate on stone 
corbels most beautifully carved. These seg- 



ments, joined to horizontal beams attached to 
the side cornice, themselves assume the form, 
and answer the purpose of brackets, since they 
sustain the main arches, whose elegance is 
much increased by the pendant corbels by 
which they are upheld." 

Writing in 1828, Mr. Buckler, with his usual 
enthusiasm for the beautiful in architecture, 
declares that "the exquisitely beautiful form 
and decoration of these appendages surpass 
description. It may, however, be said that they 
are octagonal, composed of tracery, surmounted 
by a capital, and supported by a corbel, both 
of the same shape, the one broad for a canopy 
and the other long and tapering to a point." 

He adds, "it is less wonderful that the more 
delicate enrichments of these pendants should 
be destroyed, than that a single specimen 
should have remained in its place till the year 
1817, to prove the original beauty of the whole. 
This valuable relic was attached to the wall 
in the south west corner. Before the next 
summer it was removed." Mr. Buckler gives 
an engraving of it in his little book. 

"The remaining space between the arches 
and the apex is occupied by open wrought 
tracery. The assemblage of features thus dis- 
posed on an elegant and well-contrived prin- 
ciple within a triangular frame constitutes the 
magnificent roof of this room. The precise 
form of the arches, clustered mouldings, and 
traceried panels, which please by their variety 
and the richness of their combination, pro- 
claim the ability of those by whom they were 
designed and wrought." 

" The Loover." The loover, or chimney, 
occupied the third division from the upper 
end. The hexagonal framework, from which it 
rose above the external roof, rich in pinnacles 
and tracery, was in existence in 1828, and 
marked the situation of the hearth below. But 
the loover itself was destroyed prior to the 
date of any drawing or engraving then known; 
and as the hearth was not substituted by a 
recessed fire-place in the side wall, it is prob- 
able that the old method of warming the hall 
was used, until its destruction, and that after- 
wards the loover was removed as useless. 

" The Wall Spaces." The blank space below 
the windows, which is considerable, was once- 
used for the display of tapestry and fresco 
painting; and on these, and perhaps other 
accounts, became a distinctive character in the 
design of the room. 

The stone work in the spaces over and be- 
tween the windows was always uncovered, and 
on that account is constructed with great care. 
It is composed of large squares, while the broad 
space below is of brick, cased, on the outside, to- 
wards the south, with masonry of an inferior 
quality to that above, which resembles the in- 
terior, and with which the principal or north 
side corresponds. 

The substantial layer of cement on which 
the tapestry was fastened was not wholly re- 
moved iu 1828, and much of a similar com- 
position remains on the walls of Westminster 

The Bay Windows. The bay windows are of 
unrivalled grandeur and beauty. In each a 
rich and elegant pattern of tracery, highly 
decorated with sculptured knots, the whole 
wrought in stone of the most delicate work- 
manship, expands in a uniform pattern over 
the roof, and reposes its clustered "springers" 
on the capitals of the slender shafts, which, 
in the sides and angles of the space, are com- 
bined with the mouldings of the windows, and 
rest on a plinth at their foot. 

The great arches leading to the interior are 
of an obtuse form, but those of the windows 
excel in beauty of form even the side windows 
of the hall. Their graceful length admits of a 
division by a transom, consisting of arches 
with an embattled cornice, whose upright 
shafts, united to the pillars of the roof, rest 
their bases on the sill. 

The Inner Doors. On the inner sides of the 
bays appear the elegant doorways, by one of 
which the hall was entered from the with- 
drawing room. The bays of the halls at King- 
ston Seymour, Wingfield Manor House, and 
other places also contained the entrance to the 
chief apartments; but the arrangement was un- 
usual, and it may be remarked that no other 
internal doorways appear in the hall of Eltham 



h S 

8 I 


2 S 
















The Screen Mr. Buckler has a great deal to 
say about the screen, the remains of which still 
exist at the eastern end of the hall. We may 
do well to read his comments, that we may be 
able to compare the screen as it appears now, 
with what it was in 1828. He says : 

The prominent position of the screen, which 
is advanced ten feet six inches into the hall 
at the lower end, was favourable to the dis- 
play of handsome decoration, and the ample 
space was in this instance adorned so as to 
correspond with the rest of the building. The 
last fragments of its carved work were de- 
stroyed about ten years ago (1818), but it 
appears that the whole of the perforated 
tracery was gone when a drawing of this 
screen was published by the Society of Antiqu- 
aries in 1782. 

"The main pillars and beams are all that 
now remain. Of the five spaces into which the 
front of the screen was separated, the two 
broadest contained doorways, the capitals and 
springers of whose arches till lately remained- 
and, if the rude drawing before mentioned can 
be relied on, were superbly carved." 

It is generally thought that a minstrel gallery 

existed in the hall, but Mr. Buckler does not 
seem to share the popular belief. He says, 
"The screen now supports a rude frame work 
of wood, which may be mistaken for the re- 
mains of a gallery, a feature which frequently 
belonged to rooms of this class, but one which 
was so often omitted that it cannot fairly be 
numbered among the constituents of the de- 
sign; it at least never formed a part of the 
internal decoration of this palatial hall; and 
the passage behind the screen was covered by 
a ceiling. The strongest confirmation of this 
opinion I can add is, that there is no stair- 
case or doorway by which a gallery could have 
been entered, either from the common level 
or from the floor of the adjoining apartments.' 
" There can be no doubt that the screen was 
designed to shut from the view of the hall the 
different doorways which were necessarily 
arranged behind it." 

Stone Door-cases. Our notice is also directed 
to the two stone doorcases in the wall opposite 
screen, and once the entrances to the 
kitchen, and its appropriate offices. These 
arches are plain, and Mr. Buckler says, " the 
remains of bolts and hinges prove the care 
with which they have been secured." 




It is difficult to say with any certainty what 
were the actual positions of the other buildings 
that made up the Palace. But we have suffi- 
cient documentary evidence to enable us to 
form some idea of its size and importance. 

The beginning of the end of Eltham Palace 
may be said to have dated from January 30th, 
1649, the day on which Charles I. was executed. 
The Royal Estates were then vested in trustees, 
to be surveyed and sold to supply the necessities 
of State. 

An Ordinance was passed on July 16th, 1649, 
and in the following autumn in October, 
November and December, the Parliamentary 
survey of Eltham was made. From this survey 
we get the following particulars: 

" The Capital Mansion House, built with 
brick, stone, and timber, was called Eltham 
House, and consisted of one fair chapel, one 
great hall, thirty-six rooms and offices below 
stairs, with two large cellars; and above stairs, 
in lodgings called the King's side, 17; the 
Queen's side, 12; and the Prince's side, nine; 
in all, 38 lodging rooms, with other necessary 
small rooms and closets. 

None were garnished, except the chapel and 
hall, both garnished with wainscot, all covered 
with lead and tiles, with one green outward 
court, containing one acre encompassed with 
out-houses on three sides, consisting of about 
35 bays of building, containing in two stories 
about 78 rooms, formerly used as offices to the 
said manor, mansion or court house, with one 
inward court, containing half-an-acre, and one 
garden called the arbor, lying south of the 
mansion; also the orchard, encompassed with a 
brick wall, adjoining the highway leading from 

the manor house to a piece of ground called 
the High Lawn, N., upon the said lawn E., 
upon the Great Park, S., and the manor house, 
W., containing Sac. lr. 35p. 

The said manor, or mansion house, with the 
scite thereof, is bounded with the said arbor, 
containing 2ac. 2r. 10p., S.E., the Little Park, 
S.W., and with the highway leading to the said 
town, N., contains, with the moat, 7ac. 2r., and, 
with all ways, passages, easements, water- 
courses, commodities, and appurtenances to the 
said mansion house and scite belonging, worth 
a year U 3s. 35d. 

The whole being out of repair and untenant- 
able, the materials were valued at ,2,753, ex- 
clusive of the charge of taking down. 

The scite of the above, when cleared, was 
worth .11 a year. 

The out-houses encompassing the outer court, 
if divided into habitations, worth ,25 a year." 

The survey also contains many interesting 
particulars as to the parks, and, although in 
this chapter we are dealing mainly with the 
buildings, it will perhaps be as well to make 
some extracts here, since they throw a good deal 
of light upon other buildings connected with 
the Palace, and as it will help readers who may 
be interested in trying to define the limits of 
the old parks upon a modern map of the parish. 

" The Great Park, with a piece called the 
Parish Lawn, the mansion house, and two closes 
of pasture, part of the demesne lands called the 
two ten acres abutting on the N., a lane lead- 
ing from South End to Cray, and on the E. a 
road leading from Chiselhurst to London, con- 
taining the whole 596ac. 3r. lip., worth ,328 
4s lOd. a year. 



The Great or Manor Lodge, on the N.E. of 
the Great Park, with orchard and garden, con- 
tained lac. 2r., worth .6 13s. 4d. a year. 

The Keeper's House, or Old Lodge, in the 
middle of the Great Park, contained 25 perches, 
worth 2 a year. 

The Deer were all destroyed, and the Park 
disparked by the soldiery and common people 
since the midsummer before. 

The Trees in this Park, besides such as were 
marked out for use of the navy, were 1062, being 
old ' dottrels ' and decayed, worth ,424 16s. 

Patrick Maule, groom of the late King's bed- 
chamber, was Chief Ranger, by letters patent, 
dated 12 June, 4, Charles I., at 6d. a day for 

The trees, before mentioned, marked for the 
navy were 1,200." 

" The Little or Middle Park, between the 
Great Park on the E., the hamlet of Motting- 
ham, S., and the highway from Nottingham 
to London, N., contained 333ac. 3r. 3p., worth 
.217 15s. Oid. a year. 

The Keeper's Lodge, a three-storied house in 
the middle of the Park, with, orchard and 
garden, 2ac. 2r., 7p., worth 6 13s. 4d. a year. 
The deer and park were destroyed like the 

The Trees marked for the navy 1,000, the 
rest old and fit for fire were 334, worth .162." 

" The Home, alias Lee Park with the meads 
and paddocks impaled, in Eltham and Lee, the 
highway from Mottiugham to London abutting 
E., the hamlet of Mottingham, S., the lane from 
Lee to Bromley, W., and the highway from 
Kltham to London, N., contained 336ac. lr., 
worth ,151 6s. 3d. a year. 

The Lodge, near the middle of the Park, three 
roods, worth ,4 a year. 

Deer destroyed. Trees, marked for the navy 
about 1,700, the rest, old and decayed, 2,620, 
worth ,917. 

The Chief Banger and Master of the game 
was Sir Theodore Mayerne." 

There are other details in this interesting 
survey, but those given seem sufficient to indicate 

the extent of the Palace grounds in the year 
1649, when its doom was sealed. Reverting to 
the subject of the "one fair chapel," noticed in 
the survey, although we cannot locate its exact 
position, we may pretty safely assume that it 
formed a part of the extensive pile of building 
adjoining the Great Hall. 

It was very likely included in that part of the 
Palace built by King Edward the Fourth, whose 
fourth daughter, Bridget, was born here in the 
20th year of his reign, and was the next day 
baptised in the chapel by the Bishop of Chiches- 

Mr. Buckler, whom we have quoted already 
at considerable length, was of opinion that the 
chapel was situated on the upper or principal 
floor, and, with the surrounding apartments, 
had, below stairs, the thirty-six rooms and 
offices, and the two large cellars, referred to in 
the survey. He says, "one common charac- 
teristic of domestic architecture of the period is 
the height of the windows from the ground, 
that is, their appearance on the upper floor, 
where all the principal apartments were most 
invariably placed. Whether or not this 
arrangement was originally designed, and after- 
wards persisted in for the sake of security, it 
answered that purpose. While in some 
instances it added strength to an already forti- 
fied mansion, in others it formed, excepting the 
moat, the only protection from sudden in- 

We find that in 1810 the ground on the sides 
of the hall within the enclosure presented no- 
thing but shrubs and heaps of loose masonry. 
"The vault," says Mr. Buckler, "in the south- 
west corner lay open and unoccupied, and the 
foundation of a wall parallel to the west side, 
about thirty feet from it, and sixty feet long, 
was exposed to view." 

Much interest is always taken in the sub 
terranean passages and vaults, and several 
theories have been put forward as to their 
origin and purpose. These chambers were more 
accessible at the time Mr. Buckler made his in- 
vestigations, and as he gave them considerable 
attention, we will reproduce what he has said 
about them. 



" There are no fragments of walls," lie writes, 
"to determine the extent of the south front 
from the west angle, but the vaults which still 
remain underground, if not capacious drains, 
were used for cellars, and hare had buildings 
over them." This observation is important, as 
it suggests the position of the buildings on the 
south side. "But these subterranean rooms," 
he continues, " are not now so easy of access 
as they were formerly. One has been partly, 
and the other entirely closed up. Two on the 
west side still remain open, and one towards the 
south, originally sixty feet long, is now a con- 
venient receptacle for garden implements. 

"All these vaults, except the last, are about 
three feet wide, and six feet high to the crown 
of the arch. The principal one, facing the 
west, extends fifty feet underground, but the 
one adjoining, and that towards the" south merit 

"The former extends 25 feet from the en- 
trance, and consists of three members, alto- 
gether resembling the Roman I. The middle 
space measures 10ft. 4in. by 4ft. The outer 
division contains the staircase, which formerly 
communicated with the apartments above; and 
the inner, a deeply recessed arch, between 
which and the vault is an aperture in the roof 
of 24in. by 20in., framed with stone, and doubt- 
less once concealed by a trap door. 

"The door of the latter, or south vault, ap- 
pears between the two towers before noticed. 
Its course is singularly irregular, varying in 
width from four to six feet, four feet three 
inches, and four feet nine inches. In the left 
or west wall is an arched recess, five feet wide, 
and four deep, and further on a small recess or 

" But a square aperture in the roof near the 
outer doorway is the object of primary in- 
terest. It is neatly formed, and large enough to 
admit the passage of an individual, and seems 
to justify the vulgar tales of adventures by 
means of secret passages, which attach to this 
and many other celebrated old houses. 

" It will not, I presume, be rejected as idle or 
improbable, that formerly there might have 
been occasions which would render a secret re- 
treat useful. The water approached nearly to 

the level of the passage floor, and a few 
moments would suffice to convey the retreating 
party to the opposite bank. 

" Whatever might have been their original 
design, it is evident that these vaults were con- 
structed for long duration. The ancient 
builders, to the other good qualities of their 
work, added that of strength. The cement 
which unites the stones is no less durable than 
the material itself." 

The underground buildings have survived the 
noble mansion more than two centuries, with- 
out shewing any symptoms of decay, and will 
probably last for many more generations. 


If we again take our stand upon the bridge, 
with our back to the Palace, and our face to the 
avenue of limes, looking north, we have be- 
fore us the scene of the old "court yard," the 
name which it still retains. This, of course, 
was an outer court, and must not be confused 
with the inner courts of quadrangles which 
existed within the moat. 

In the year 1590, when Elizabeth was queen, 
a detailed plan was made of this outer court 
yard, and this plan may be seen at the Record 
Office. The roadway runs now, as it did then, 
along the middle of the court yard. Still facing 
north, with the Palace behind us, on the left 
and right were two rows of buildings. The 
ancient wooden houses on the left of us are the 
remains of the buildings set out on the plan, 
and those nearest the moat are called " My 
Lord Chancellor his Lodgings." Then follow 
"The Buttery," "The Spicery," "The 
Pastry," "The Cole-house/' and "The 
Slaughter-house." On the opposite side of the 
court yard was a corresponding row of build- 
ings, but these have now disappeared. They 
are marked on the plan as "Bake-house," and 
"Decayed Lodgings." Behind these ether 
buildings are indicated, " The Scalding House," 
" The Cole Houses," " The Store House for 

The two rows of buildings form two sides of 
a slightly irregular rectangle. Immediately in 
front of us, at the other end of the road 
from the bridge, and a hundred yards from 
where we now stand, was the " gate-way" to the 
court yard, and from the right and left of the 



gateway ran out rows of buildings marked as 
"Decayed Lodgings" on the plan, but meeting 
the two lines of buildings already alluded to, 
and forming with them the small end of the 
irregular rectangle. Beyond the " gate," to the 
left of the road which ran into the village, was 
"The Channdry," while "The Great Bake- 
house" occupied a position also outside the 

" gate," at the right-hand corner of the rect- 

Here we must conclude our brief survey of the 
ruins and other relics of the Palace, much of 
which we can still look upon. In our next 
chapter we propose to begin the story of some of 
the great events and distinguished personages 
that have been associated with Royal Eltham. 


9 A 

HENRY III. (from liis tomb in Westminster Abbey). 



According to Matthew Paris, the chronicler 
of the thirteenth century, King Henry III. 
visited Eltham for the Christmas festivities of 
1270. No record has yet been found of any 
earlier king taking up his residence here, al- 
though the house must have been of consider- 
able importance and notability, seeing that it 
was the home of the great Baron John de 
Vesci, and that it possessed sufficient accommo- 
dation for the entertainment of the King in 

Henry III. died two years after his state 
visit to Eltham, in 1272, and was succeeded by 
Edward I. (12721307). This latter monarch 
signed several charters at Eltham, but his reign 
is an important period of Eltham history, be- 
cause it was then that Antony Bek came into 
temporary possession of the Palace, and 

wrought the improvements which have 
associated with his name. 


It is recorded in the Dictionary of National 
Biography, that Anthony Bek, the Bishop of 
Durham, " built the castle at Eltham, and gave 
it to the queen." Other authorities say that he 
beautified and improved the building. Which- 
ever statement is correct we may regard it as 
an undisputed fact that Bishop Bek carried 
out great building operations, and if he was 
merely the " beautifier " of the palace, the in- 
ference is that there was a palace of some sort 
before he took the work in hand. This infer- 
ence would seem to be quite reasonable when 
we recollect the antiquity of Eltham, even at 
the Bishop's time, and the fact that for cen- 
turies it had been a royal desmesne. 

But you may ask, who was Bishop Bek? How 



did he become associated with Eltham? Let us 
try and answer these questions, and let us 
deal with the latter first the Bishop's con- 
nection with Eltham. 

If you turn to that part of Hasted's History 
of Kent which deals with the " Blackheath 
Hundred" you will find the query answered in 
a few words. Hasted writes : 

"On the disgrace of the Bishop of Bayeux 
(see chapter six) about four years after, all 
his estates were confiscated to the Crown. This 
palace afterwards belonged partly to the king 
and partly to the Mandevils, from whom it 
came to be called " Eltham Mandevil." 

King Edward I. gave his part of Eltham, with 
lands in Northumberland, and other places, in 
the ninth year of his reign, to John, son of 
William de Vesci, a potent baron of the north, 
who had the year before married Isabel de 
Beaumont, Queen Eleanor's kinswoman. In 
the twelfth year of that reign he procured a 
charter for a weekly market here on a Tuesday, 
and a fair yearly on the eve of the Holy Trinity 
and the two following days. 

In the fourteenth year of it, having obtained 
the King's consent, John de Vesci gave the 
sixth part of the Manor of Luton, in Bedford- 
shire, in exchange to Walter de Mandevil for 
his part of Eltham, and died without issue 
in the seventeenth year of the same reign, 
holding the Manor of Eltham of the Keing, by 
knight's service, and leaving William his 
brother his heir, and Isabel his wife surviv- 

William de Vesci " the succeeding Lord of 
the Manor "was summoned to Parliament in 
the twenty-third year of that reign (Edward 
I.), and having married Isabel, daughter of 
Adam de Periton, widow of Robert de Welles, 
had by her an only son, John, who died without 
issue in his life-time, upon which, "having no 
lawful issue surviving, in the twenty-fourth 
year of that reign he enfeofed that great pre- 
late, Anthony Beke, Bishop of Durham and 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, in several of his 
estates, among which was the inheritance of 
Eltham, then held by Isabel, widow of John de 
Vesci, afterwards wife of Adam de Welles, for 
her life, upon the special trust, that he should 

retain them for the use of William de Vesci," 
his natural son. 

John de Vesci died the year after he had 
made these provisions, and thus it was that 
Bishop Bek came into possession. 

Hasted tells us that this William de Vesci, 
for whom the Bishop had agreed to hold tho 
Eltham estate, was killed a good many years 
afterwards at the Battle of Bannockburn. His 
mother was Dergavile, daughter of Dunwald, 
a petty prince in Ireland. 

So much for the connection of Bishop Bek 
with Eltham, where he died on March 3rd, 1310 
or 1311, and whence his body was conveyed to 
Durham and interred in the Cathedral there. 

Now, let us see what we can glean of the his- 
tory of this great prelate, who was not only a 
most powerful prince of the Church, but was a 
man of exceedingly interesting and picturesque 
personality, and often a familiar figure in the 
picturesque village of Eltham. 

He was the son of a Lincolnshire baron, 
Walter of Eresby, and as a young man he 
attracted the notice of Edward I., by whom 
he was nominated Bishop of Durham in 1283. 
We are told that " he was already well pro- 
vided with ecclesiastical preferments; for he 
held five beneficies in the province of Canter- 
bury, and was Archdeacon of Durham." 

On the occasion of his consecration there 
occurred an incident which shewed, to some 
extent, the kind of man the new Bishop was. 

The monks of Durham were at variance with 
the Archbishop of York about his rights of 
visitation. They knew that the Archbishop 
would not accept any one unless he were 
supported by the king, so they elected Antony 
Bek to be their Bishop, who was a nominee of 
the king. 

Immediately after his consecration, the Arch- 
bishop, John Eomanus, ordered the new Bishop 
to excommunicate the rebellious monks. 

" Yesterday I was consecrated their Bishop," 
replied Bek, " shall I excommunicate them to 

day? " 

* * 

"Antony Bek was a prelate of the secular 
and political type. He was one of the magnifi- 



cent lords of England, and out-did his peers 
in profuse expenditure. His ordinary retinue 
consisted of a hundred and forty knights, and 
he treated barons and earls with haughty 

When the Bishop came to Eltham, we may 
well imagine that his procession through the 
pretty Kentish lanes was a brilliant pageant 
upon which the simple villagers would gaze 
with an admiration that was intermixed with 

Then he was immensely rich. " Besides the 
revenues of his bishopric he had a large private 
fortune; and though he spent money profusely 
he died rich. He delighted in displaying his 
wealth. On one occasion in London he paid 
forty shillings for forty herrings, because he 
heard that no one else would buy them. At 
another time, hearing that a piece of cloth 
was spoken of as ' too dear even for the Bishop 
of Durham/ he bought it and had it cut up for 

In our day we should regard this sort of 
thing as a weakness in his character, but there 
was a redeeming feature. We learn that " he 
was an extremely temperate man, and was 
famed for his chastity." 

He was a man of restless activity, who needed 
little sleep. He used to say that he could not 
understand how a man could turn in his bed, 
or seek a second slumber. In this respect he 
rather resembled the Duke of Wellington, who 
is said to have remarked that his first turn in 
bed was to "turn out." Bek spent his time 
in riding with a splendid retinue, from manor 
to manor, and was "a mighty hunter, delight- 
ing in horses, hawks, and hounds." 

But he was also a great statesman, and exer- 
cised much influence at the Court of Edward 
I. He was the chief adviser throughout the 
troubles connected with Scotland. He was the 
ambassador to Adolf of Nassau to arrange an 
alliance with Germany against France. 

And he was a soldier. In the expedition 
against Scotland in 1296, he led one thousand 
foot and five hundred horse, and before him was 
carried the sacred banner of St. Cuthbert. Sub- 
sequently, in the battle of Falkirk, Bishop Bek 

commanded the second division of the English 
forces. An incident of this battle is recorded. 

When he approached the foe he ordered his 
cavalry to await re-inforcements before charg- 

" To thy mass, Bishop," cried a rough knight, 
" and teach not such as us how to fight the 

This remark seems to have fired the Bishop, 
for we are told that he spurred on, was followed 
by the rest, and routed the enemy. 

* * * 

After his return from the Scottish campaign 
Bek seems to have got out of favour with the 
king. Moreover, he was involved in troubles 
with the monks of Durham, and in ecclesias- 
tical disputes which lasted to the end of his 

The monks at Durham were dissatisfied with 
their Prior, in 1300, so the Bishop proposed to 
hold a visitation there. Prior Richard de 
Hoton refused to admit the Bishop as visitor 
unless he came unattended. He knew that if 
the Bishop brought in his attendants he would 
be able to enforce his orders. 

So the Bishop suspended the Prior, and as 
the latter disregarded this and refused to obey 
the Bishop, deposition and ex-communication 
followed. This led to breaches of the peace, and 
the king had to interpose as a mediator. 

The king decided that the Prior should con- 
tinue in office, and that the Bishop was to visit 
the convent accompanied by a few chaplains 
only. The king further declared that he would 
take action against that party which opposed 
his decision. 

It was a triumph for Prior Richard. The 
haughty Bishop would not give way. He would 
not withdraw his deposition of the Prior, and 
called upon the monks to elect another in his 
place. The monks were in a dilemma. They 
demurred. So the Bishop appointed Henry de 
Luceby, of Lindisfarne, to the office, and in 
order to set up his nominee, he called upon 
the men of Tynedale, and Weardale, to besiege 
the abbey. This they did, and the abbey was 
reduced by hunger, and the defiant Prior 
Richard was seized and put into prison. 



But he managed to escape, and hastened to 
Lincoln, where Parliament was assembled, and 
there the deposed Prior laid before the King his 

Bishop Bek had few sympathisers, and many 
were the complaints, from other quarters, 
brought to the King, of the arrogance of the 
Bishop. Parliament decided in favour of Prior 
Richard, who was thereupon sent to the Pope 
with letters from Edward I. supporting him 
against the Bishop. The Pope Boniface VIII. 
reinstated the Prior, and ordered Bishop Bek 
to Rome to answer for his doings. 

Bek took no heed of the summons, upon which 
the Pope threatened the Bishop with depriva- 
tion. Then Bek set out for Rome, but com- 
mitted a breach of decorum by departing with- 
out the permission of the King. This brought 
more troubles. The King made this lapse of 
etiquette an excuse for seizing the temporali- 
ties of the see of Durham, and administering 
them through his own officers. 

But in Rome Bishop Bek carried everything 
before him. There he displayed all that mag- 
nificence by which he dazzled the people at 
home. The Romans were amazed. 

" Who is this? " asked a citizen as he saw the 
Bishop's retinue pass by. 

"A foe to money," was the answer. 

We are told that " Bek won over the cardinals 
by his splendid presents. One of them admired 
his horses, whereupon Bek sent him two of 
the best, that he might choose which he pre- 

The cardinal kept both. 

"He has not failed to choose the best," said 

Bek shewed that he was no respecter of per- 
sons. "He gave the benediction when a car- 
dinal was present. He amused himself by play- 
ing with his falcons, even during his interview 
with the Pope. Boniface VIII. admired a tem- 
per so like his own, and dismissed the Prior's 
complaint against Bek." Although, this deci- 
sion was favourable to the Bishop, it did not 
settle the question, for Prior Richard was still 
the recognised head of the monastery. 

Bek returned from Rome, but in passing 
through one of the cities in Northern Italy 
there seems to have been a disturbance be- 
tween his servants and the people. The mob 
stormed his house, and even got access to the 
room where the Bishop was. 

" Yield, yield ! " was their cry. 

" You don't say to whom I am to yield," said 
the Bishop ; " certainly to none of you." 

His dauntless bearing quelled the tumult. 
* * * 

On his return he made submission to the 
King, Edward I., and thus got possession of 
his see. But the recognition of Richard as the 
Prior was a continual offence to his pride, and 
he renewed again and again his appeal to the 
Pope for his deposition. At length Clement V. 
agreed to the dismissal of the Prior, and as a 
special mark of favour to Bek, he made him 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, in 1305. 

Prior Richard did not quietly accept this 
judgment. He hastened to Rome, to appeal 
against it, and actually got a reversal of the 
sentence. But he died before he could return 
to England. 

The Bishop's troubles, however, were not 
over. Edward I. had taken a great dislike to 
him, and found a sufficient excuse to deprive 
him of several of his estates. 

But on the accession of Edward II. he was 
restored to royal favour, and honours were con- 
ferred upon him. Then the Bishop proceeded 
to punish the monks of Durham who had taken 
the side of Prior Richard. He suspended them 
for ten years. 

Whatever we may think of his actions in 
these quarrels, we cannot excuse him for one 
very dishonourable act which, indirectly, was 
a matter of interest to Eltham. We have 
noticed that William de Vesci, the lord of 
Eltham Manor, left his property in the Bishop's 
trust, to his natural son, William de Vesci 
The estates included others besides Eltham, and 
among them that of the barony of Alnwick in 

The young de Vesci seems to have used dis- 
respectful or insulting language to the Bishop, 
and the latter'e pride was so wounded by the 



incident that to spite the offender, he actually 
sold the barony of Alnwick to Henry Percy, 
a circumstance which added greatly to the 
powerful house of Percy. 

The Bishop spent great sums upon buildings 
in various parts of the country. Among these 
works was that of the erection or the beauti- 
fication of the Palace of Eltham, which, it is 
said, he presented to the Queen. 

He died at Eltham, as we have already 
noticed, and his body was conveyed, we may 

imagine with great ceremony and pomp, 
through the length of England to Durham, 
where it was buried in his cathedral church. 

This, then, briefly told, is the story of the 
proud and powerful prelate, Antony Bek, whose 
name is so closely associated with the story of 
Eltham, since it was he who provided it with 
that stately palace which for centuries after 
his death was the regular abode of English 

(from Tomb in Westminster Abbey). 

(Gloucester Cathedral). 



That weak and unhappy prince, who, on the 
death of his father, Edward I., ascended the 
throne as Edward II., often resided at Eltham, 
and it was to the Palace here that he first 
brought his beautiful, but faithless, Queen, 
"Isabella the Fair," prior to their state entry 
into London just before their coronation. 

Isabella was daughter of the King of France. 
At the time of her marriage she was only six- 
teen years old, and was famed throughout 
Europe for her extraordinary beauty. Her 
life was one of troubles and tragedies, partly 
in consequence of the neglect and weakness of 
her lord, the king, partly the result of her own 
perfidy and wickedness. 

She enters largely into the Story of Eltham, 
for she was often here, and the Palace recently 

enlarged and beautified by Anthony Bek, came 
into her possession. For a full history of this 
remarkable woman you may turn to Miss 
Strickland's "Lives of the Queens of England." 
Her marriage with Edward took place at 
Boulogne, on January 25th, 1308, and her first 
experience of England was obtained in her pro- 
gress through Kent, in winter time, to the 
Palace at Eltham, where the Royal procession 
was arrested for a time to prepare for the State 

The beauty of the Princess was proclaimed on 
all sides, and when the pageant passed along 
the lanes that led to the Palace it is easy to 
imagine the good wives of Eltham, the youths 
and the maidens, and villagers of all classes, 
pressing forward, as close as propriety allowed, 



to get a glimpse of the beautiful girl, who, alas! 
was destined to play so sad a part in our 
national history. 

Her first child was born at Windsor, some 
four years later, in November, 1312. He was 
named Edward, after his father, and after- 
wards ascended the throne, to which he added 
strength and lustre, as Edward III. In the fol- 
lowing January (1313) the Queen removed from 
Windsor to Westminster, where she remained 
a few days. 

There were great rejoicings in London on the 
occasion of this visit, and when, after her short 
sojourn at Westminster, the Queen and the 
baby Prince proceeded on their journey to 
Eltham, we are told that the Fishmongers Com- 
pany organised a great pageant in her honour, 
and escorted her all the way to Eltham Palace, 
where she took up her abode. 

In 1316, some three years later, we find Queen 
Isabella again in residence here, and on this 
occasion occurred the birth of her second son, 
John of Eltham, of whom we shall have more 
to say presently. 

We need not follow the history of Queen 
Isabella, so full of painful and terrible ex- 
periences. These things you may read for your- 
self in the pages of your history book. Had 
her husband been a strong man, as his father 
was, instead of weak and worthless, and the tool 
of his favourites, it is quite likely that his 
Queen, who was received in England with so 
much acclaim, would not have had so dis- 
honourable a reputation. 

To Eltham people, who are so justly proud of 
the old Palace in their midst, it is a matter of 
considerable interest that in 1332, that is, when 
the Queen was in her fortieth year, after the 
deposition and death of her husband, and when 
her son, Edward III., was King, "she received 
permission to dwell at Eltham whenever her 
health required a change of air." Eltham air, 
in those days, even as now, was no doubt noted 
for its invigorating and health-giving pro- 

Queen Isabella "the Fair" died in 1358, at 
the age of 66, at her castle in Hertfordshire, 
and was buried at the Franciscan Church at 
Newgate, in London. There is a statue to her 

memory among the figures which adorn the 
tomb of her son, John of Eltham, at West- 


In the prologue of Miss Bidder's novel, " In 
the Shadow of a Crown," the writer tells of a 
weird and uncanny circumstance at Eltham 
Palace, full of gloomy predictions by the 
"Witch of Eltham," on the occasion of the 
birth and christening of the young Prince John 
of Eltham, July, 1316. 

The "Witch of Eltham" is, of course, a 
creature of the novelist's imagination, but as 
in most properly conducted stories the prog- 
nostications of witches often come true, it is not 
at all surprising to find that John of Eltham 
died young, almost before he had reached the 
age of manhood. 

In connection with the interesting ceremony 
of the baptism of Prince John, we find, in the 
wardrobe accounts of Edward and Isabella, that 
"a piece of Turkey carpet, and one cloth of 
gold, were delivered to John de Founteney for 
decorating the font in the Chapel of Eltham, in 
which the Lord John was baptized, and to 
Stephen Faloyse, the Queen's tailor, five pieces 
of white velvet for making a robe against the 
churching of the Queen." 

Although we like to regard Prince John as- 
one of our most distinguished of Eltham heroes, 
and probably through its association with his 
name the Palace has been erroneously called 
"King" John's Palace, he does not figure 
greatly in English history. Most writers of 
history ignore his existence, so that it is quite 
a common thing for people to ask the question, 
" Who was Prince John ?" 

If you are disposed to look into old records 
you may, however, find a good deal about this 
young Prince scattered about the pages of that 
large and cumbersome book, Rymer'a 
" Foedera," which is to be seen at the British 
Museum, and at the Rolls Office. 

When he was born, his father was engaged in 
war with Scotland, and we find that in March, 
1319, some provision was made for the little 
three-year-old Prince, by the grant to him of 
the forfeited lands of all Scots south of the- 



During the period of his early boyhood, his 
father, Edward II., was engaged in those 
struggles with the barons end people which 
occupied so much of his reign, and ended in 
his downfall. We find, in October, 1326, the 
Londoners were in revolt against the King. 
They seized the Tower, which at that period 
was a palace as well as a prison, removed the 
royal officers, and appointed others, in the name 
of John of Eltham, whom they styled " Warden 
of the City and Tower of London." John at 
this time was only a lad of ten years of age. 

In the following year his father, King Edward 
II., was taken prisoner, and confined in Berke- 
ley Castle, where he was soon after mysteriously 

Prince John's elder brother, Edward, was 
then proclaimed King, and we find the Prince 
created Earl of Cornwall the year after (1328). 

Soon after his accession, Edward III. paid 
his visit to France to do homage for Aquitaine, 
and during his absence, May, 1329, Prince John 
acted as Regent. 

The Prince himself paid a visit to Aquitaine 
the following year, 1330, and on two other occa- 
sions, namely, in 1331, when the King was in 
France again, and in 1332, when he was in Scot- 
land, John was responsible for the Regency. 

In his seventeenth year, we learn that John 
of Eltham was following the honourable pro- 
fession of arms. The English were warring 
against the Scots, and the young Prince had 
command of the first division of the English 
Army at the battle of Halidon Hill, in July, 
1333, while in January, 1335, he defeated the 
Scots when they made a raid into Redesdale. 

In February, 1335, he was made Warden of 
the Marches of Northumberland, and a Com- 
missioner to receive the submission of the Scots. 

In April, 1336, he received a grant of the 
coinage of tin in Cornwall, in return for his ex- 
penses in Scotland. In the same year he was 
one of the Commissioners to hold a Parliament 
at Northampton. He afterwards proceeded to 
Scotland in the company of the King, his 
brother. On Edward's return, John of Eltham 
was left in complete command of the English 
forces in Scotland. 

But it was only for a few weeks that he held 
this important position. He contracted a fever 
at Perth, and died in the month of October, 

As soon as the fatal news reached the ears of 
the King, he returned to Scotland with all 
haste, for the purpose of escorting the body of 
his brother to London. 

The sad procession reached London at the be- 
ginning of the following year, and with much 
ceremonial and pomp the mortal remains of 
John of Eltham were interred in the Abbey of 
Westminster on January 15th, 1337. 

You may see the tomb there now, in St. 
Stephen's Chapel, on the south side of the choir. 
Some Eltham readers, when next they visit 
Westminster, may be disposed to examine this 
interesting tomb, which has been most 
graphically described by Mr. Hare. Let us read 
his description: 

"The effigy is of great antiquarian interest, 
from the details of its plate armour. The 
prince wears a surcoat, gorget and helmet, the 
last open in front to shew the features, and sur- 
rounded by a coronet of large and small trefoil 
leaves alternated, being the earliest known re- 
presentation of the ducal form of coronet. 

"Two angels sit by the pillow, and around 
the tomb are mutilated figures of the royal rela- 
tions of the dead. 

"The statuettes of the French relations are 
towards the chapel, and have been cruelly 
mutilated, but the English relations, facing St. 
Edward's Chapel, have been protected by the 
strong oak screen, and are of the most intense 

" Edward II., who was buried in Gloucester 
Cathedral, is represented here. Here, on the 
left hand of the husband, whose cruel murder 
she caused, is the only known portrait of the 
wicked Isabella the Fair, daughter of Philip le 
Bel, who died at Castle Rising, in 1358; she 
wears a crown at the top of her widow's head, 
and holds a sceptre in her right hand. 

" Here, also, alone can we become acquainted 
with the characteristics of her aunt, the stain- 
less Marguerite of France, the grand-daughter 
of St. Louis, who, at the age of twenty, became 



the wife of Edward I., and, dying at Marl- 
borough Castle, in 1317, was buried in the Grey 
Friar's Church, in London; she wears a crown 
of fleur-de-lis over her widow's veil. 

" This tomb of Prince John was once shaded 
by a canopy of exquisite beauty, supported by 

eight stone pillars a forest of Gothic spires, 
intermingled with statues; it was destroyed in a 
rush of spectators at the funeral of the Duchess 
of Northumberland, in 1776. Fuller mentions 
John of Eltham as the last son of a King of 
England, who died a plain Earl; the title of 
duke afterwards came into fashion." 

EDWARD III. (from Tomb in Westminster Abbey). 



Edward III. (1327-1377), one of the most 
gallant and chivalrous princes of Christen- 
dom, was closely associated with Eltham 
in his boyhood and manhood, and it 
was during his reign, perhaps, that the 
royal village witnessed the most brilliant 
spectacles of pageantry and chivalry in all its 

It was at Eltham that the young prince re- 
ceived much of his education. It was here, 
when a king, that he gathered his councillors 
round him, and held several parliaments. It 
was at the gates of Eltham Palace that, with 
pomp and splendour, and surrounded by the 
flower of his kinghthood, he received that vol- 
untary exile and chivalrous monarch, John, 
the King cf France. 

These are undisputed facts. But there are 
other circumstances which, although we cannot 
point to them with certainty as Eltham events, 

we may regard them as having, in all probab- 
ility, taken place here. Thomas Eymer, the 
antiquary and royal historiographer of two 
centuries ago, in that remarkable work, 
"Fcedera," which may be seen at the British 
Museum, tells us that it was from Eltham, in 
1329, that Edward III. " issued a commission 
to Thomas Carey to bring before him John le 
Rouse and William de Dalby," who were said 
to have discovered the secret of making silver 
by means of alchemy. 

This may interest our young scientists of to- 
day who, doubtless, with the knowledge that 
they now possess, will smile at the credulity 
of the great king, who sent for the alchemist 
that professed to be able to convert the baser 
metals into silver. 

And there is a tradition that the order of 
knighthood, known as the "Order of the 
Garter," was finally established at Eltham. 



There seems to be some doubt as to the actual 
circumstances that led to the creation of this 
honourable order, with its motto, " Honi soft 
qui mal y pense," but at least one pretty legend 
is connected with it which we will speak about 
presently. There is the same doubt as to the 
actual time and place of its institution. 

But Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, in his 
" History of the Orders of Knighthood of the 
British Empire," expresses his opinion that it 
very likely happened at Eltham. 

King Edward and the Black Prince had been 
fighting in France, and their victorious cam- 
paign had included the victory of Cressy and 
the capture of Calais. Their return to England 
on the 12th of October, 1347, was attended by 
jousts and tournaments and other forms of 
festivities and rejoicings, and Nicolas says, 
" there are strongs reason for believing that 
the Order of the Garter was finally established 
at a tournament at Eltham before the close of 

The writer bases his belief upon an entry in 
the "royal wardrobe accounts" at the time, 
which runs as follows: 

"For making twelve garters of blue, em- 
broidered with gold and silk, each having the 
motto, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense,' and for 
making other equipments for the King's joust 
at Eltham," in the same year (1347). 

The association with Eltham of the Kinght- 
hood of the Garter gives a specially romantic 
touch to our story, and in connection with the 
legend which is said to have given rise to the 
name of the Order, it may interest the reader 
if we recount something about the beautiful 
Countess Salisbury, who was a prominent 
figure in the same, for it throws some light 
on the motive of the King in giving the name 
to the Order. 

England and Scotland were at war as was 
usual. David, King of Scotland, laid siege to 
Earl Salisbury's castle at Wark. The Earl was 
at the time a prisoner in France. The Countess 
successfully defended the castle against the 
Scots, and when David heard of the approach 
of King Edward, he raised the siege and hastily 

King Edward was "sore displeased" when, 
on his arrival, he found the King of Scots had 
fled. Then follows an incident inimitably des- 
cribed by Froissart, the great chronicler of the 

"As soon as the king was unarmed, he took 
ten or twelve knights with him, and went to 
the castle to salute the Countess of Salisbury, 
and to see the manner of the assaults of th& 
Scots, and the defences which had been made 
against them. 

"As soon as the lady knew of the king's 
coming, she set open the gates, and came out so 
richly beseen, that every man marvelled of her 
beauty, and the gracious words and counten- 
ance she made. When she came to the king, 
she kneeled down to the earth, thanking him 
of his succours, and so led him into the castle 
to make him cheer and honour, as she that 
could right do it. 

"Every man regarded her marvellously; the 
king himself could not withold his regarding 
of her, for he thought that he never saw be- 
fore so noble and so fair a lady; he was 
stricken therewith to the heart with a sparkle 
of fine love that endured long after; he thought 
no lady in the world so worthy to be loved a 

"Thus they entered into the castle hand ia 
hand; the lady led him first into the hall, and 
after into the chamber nobly apparelled .... 

" At last he went to the window to rest him, 
and so fell into a great study. The lady went 
about to make cheer to the lords and knights 
that were there, and commanded to dress the 
hall for dinner. 

When she had all desired and commanded, 
then she came to the king with a merry cheer, 
who was in a great study, and she said: 

'"Dear sir, who do ye study so for? Your 
grace is not displeased, it appertained not to 
you so to do; rather ye should make good cheer 
and be joyful, seeing ye have chased away your 
enemies, who durst not abide you; let other 
men study for the remnant!' 

"Then the king said, 

" 'Ah, dear lady, know for truth that since I 
entered into this castle there is a study come to 

No. 72. 

THE OLD WORKHOUSE. High Street, Eltham. 

Mr. T, W. Mills (Treasurer of the Eltham Charities), and Mr, W. B. Hughes (a Trustee). 

if ITilf f I 

No. 73. 


No. 74- 


No. 75. 

Formerly a balustrade of London Bridge. 

No. 76. 




my mind, so that I cannot cheer, but muse; 
nor I cannot tell what shall fall thereof; put it 
out of my heart I cannot!' 

" ' Ah, sir,' quoth the lady, ' ye ought always 
to make good cheer, to comfort therewith your 
people. God hath aided you so in your 
business, and hath given you so great graces, 
that ye be the most doubted (feared) and hon- 
oured prince in all Christendom; and if the 

for God's sake mock nor tempt me not. I can- 
not believe that is true that ye say, nor that 
so noble a prince as ye be would think to dis- 
honour me and my lord, my husband, who i 
so valiant a knight, and hath done your grace 
so good service, and as yet lieth in prison for 
your quarrel. Certainly, sir, ye should in this 
case have but a small praise, and nothing the 
better thereby.' 

QUEEN PHILIPPA (from Tomb in Westminster Abbey). 

King of Scots have done you any despite or 
damage, ye may well amend it, when it shall 
please you, as ye have done diverse times or 
(ere) this. Sir, leave your misery, and come 
into the hall, if it please you; your dinner is 
all ready.' 

" ' Ah, fair lady,' quoth the king, ' other 
thiiigs lieth at my heart, that ye know not of; 
but surely the sweet behaving, the perfect wis- 
dom, the good grace, nobleness, and excellent 
beauty that I see in you, hath so surprised my 
heart, that without your love I am dead.' 
"Then the lady said, 'Ah! right noble prince, 

Herewith the lady departed from the king, 
and went into the hall to haste the dinner. 
Then she returned again to the king and 
brought some of his knights with her, and 

" ' Sir, if it please you to come into the hall, 
your knights abideth for you to wash; ye have 
been too long fasting.' 

"Then the king went into the hall and 
washed, and sat down among his lords, and 
the lady also. The king ate but little; he sat 
still musing, and as he durst he oast his eyes 
upon the lady. Of his sadness his knights did 




marvel, for he was not accustomed to be; some 
thought it was because the Scots had escaped 
from him. 

"All that day the king tarried there, and 
wot not what to do; sometimes he imagined 
that honour and truth defended him to let his 
heart in such a case dishonour such a lady, 
and so true a knight as her husband was, who 
had always so well and truly served him; on 

he was "at London, making cheer to the Earl 
of Salisbury, who was now come out of prison." 

Then Edward gave a great feast in the City 
of London, and among the guests who were 
invited was the Countess of Salisbury. She 
came "sore against her will, for she thought 
well enough whereof it was; but she durst not 


the other part, love so constrained him that 
the power thereof surmounted honour and 

" Thus the king debated in himself all that 
day and all that night; in the morning he 
arose and dislodged all his host, and drew 
after the Scots to chase them from his realm." 

Soon after we find the king making the re- 
lease of the Earl of Salisbury an express clause 
in the treaty which was drawn up between 
himself and the French king, and shortly after 

discover the matter to her husband; she 
thought she would deal so as to bring the 
king from his opinion. 

" All ladies and damsels were freshly beseen, 
according to their degrees, except Alice, 
Countess of Salisbury, for she went as simply 
as she ever might, to the intent that the king 
should not set his regard on her, for she was 
fully determined to do no manner of thing that 
should turn to her dishonour nor to her hus- 



Commenting upon this incident, a historian 
writes: "It was this same model of conjugal 
fidelity of whom the well known anecdote of 
the Garter is told, that gave rise to the illus- 
trious order of Knights Companions, to which 
monarchs are, in our own time, proud to be- 
long. ' Honi soit qui mal y pense' (shamed 
be he who thinks evil of it), said the king, to 
rebuke the smiles of his courtiers, when the 
fair countess accidentally dropped her garter. 
We can well appreciate his feelings, in deter- 
mining to make the trivial incident the foun- 
dation of a lasting memorial of his admiration 
for a creature so far above most of her sex for 
the grace and purity of her soul, as for the 
exquisite beauty of her form." 

The " Order of the Garter " originally con- 
sisted of the King, the Prince of Wales, 
and twenty-four Knights Companions, who had 
stalls in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, where 
they assembled on the eve of St. George's Day 
(April 23). 

We have quoted from the "Royal Wardrobe 
Accounts" an order for "certain twelve 
garters" that were required for the great 
event at Eltham in 1347. It will perhaps assist 
our imagination in making a mental picture of 
that brilliant scene, if we enumerate the orig- 
inal insignia of the order. They were a garter, 
a surcoat, a mantle, and a hood, to which the 
collar and George, star, and under-habit were 
afterwards added. The garter, which is worn 
a little below the left knee, is now made of 
dark blue velvet, and has the motto inscribed 
on it in gold letters. The mantle, sureoat, 
and hood are all of velvet lined with white 
taffeta, the colour of the two latter being 
crimson, and that of the mantle purple. The 
badge, a silver escutcheon, bearing a red cross 
and surrounded by the garter and motto, is 
worn on the left shoulder of the mantle. The 
collar contains 26 pieces, roses alternating 
with knotted cords, and from it hangs the 
" George," a representation of St. George slay- 
ing the dragon. 



Our young friends who love to linger round 
and about the old Palace and ponder upon its 
past glories would probably like to know the 
exact spot where the great tournament took 
place, when Edward III. returned from France 
after hie victories in the memorable autumn 
of 1347. 

We cannot point to the scene with absolute 
certainty, for, unfortunately, no record of such 
a detail seems to have been left to us. All 
that we can be quite sure about is that a great 
tournament actually took place on that occa- 
sion, and indeed, it is likely that records of 
other similar events at Eltham might be found 
if we sought diligently for them. 

Trending northward from the Bridge, in the 
direction of the village, when you come to the 
end of the avenue of limes which grow upon 
the site of the old Court Yard, the road 
branches to the right and to the left. 

Taking that to the right, you will find the 
lane to the Court-road leads past a high brick 
wall, which you have only to examine for a 
moment to discover that it is of great anti- 
quity. In this wall is an ancient arch and 
gateway. Tradition says that this gateway 
was the entrance to the old " Tilt Yard," and, 
if tradition is right, thii probably would have 
been the scene of the tournaments. The field 
within the wall was certainly large enough for 
such events, for within its area there are now 
the six houses from "The Elms" to 
"The Chestnuts," with their respective 
gardens. Bounding "The Chestnuts," on the 
side towards Mottingham, may still be seen a 
portion of the original wall, corresponding 
with that fine example of ancient brickwork 
where the archway is situated. 

In all probability this extensive area was at 
one time quite surrounded by a wall, and it 
may have been from the fact that tourneys 
and jousts took place there that it derived its 
name of " Tilt Yard," by which it is known 

In searching for corroboration of this right 
of title, one naturally goes to the oldest known 
plan of the locality, the plan of 1590, already 
alluded to in a previous chapter. But the 
plan throws little or no light upon the point. 
There is a portion of the old wall, true enough. 
There is the archway, existing in the days of 
Queen Elizabeth, just as it is now. But, 
while the draughtsman has given in detail the 
names of the many houses upon the plan the 
Great Bakery, the Cole-house, the Butchery, 
and the like with a tantalising disregard for 
the needs of students of Eltham three hundred 
years after, he makes no mention whatever of 
the "Tilt Yard." 

Now, though tradition is sometimes wrong 
in such matters, it is just as often right, for, 
as the old saying has it, "where there is smoke 
there is fire," so, until evidence is forthcoming 
to prove that tradition is wrong, we may as 
well regard the "Tilt-Yard" as the scene of 
the tournaments and jousts. 

Let us try and picture in our mind one of 
these royal tournaments in the Eltham "Tilt 
Yard," so totally unlike the contests, military 
and otherwise, that go by the name of tourna- 
ments in our days. They may quite truly be 
described as kingly diversions, for Edward III. 
would not allow any tournaments to be held 
in the land without his special leave. 

The preparations for a royal tournament ex- 
tended over many weeks and even months, for 



the king sent his heralds through his domin- 
ions, and sometimes to foreign courts, to pro- 
claim the coming event, and to invite knights 
of chivalry and valour to take part in the con- 

Then the flower of knighthood, with the 
blazonry of shields and surcoat, the waving of 
plume and penon, foregathered at the royal 
village, with their squires and attendants, 
making a brave show, to the rare delight of 
the yeomen and country folk, who flocked 
Elthamwards to witness what they might of the 

maidens and pages, sat the " ladye faire" wh, 
for the occasion, officiated as the " Queen of 
Beauty and Love." 

To the right and left the galleries were filled 
with eager spectators, and the dresses of the 
ladies, which for beauty and brilliance had 
never been surpassed, presented a picture which 
was the talk of matrons and maids of Eltham 
many a year afterwards. 

For, it must be remembered, this was no 
ordinary occasion. The king had just returned 
from France as a conqueror. There was 
jubilation throughout the length and breadth 

TOURNAMENT (from Pluvenal's "Art of Horsemanship.") 

The "Lists" were prepared in the great " Tilt 
Yard," where gorgeous tents and pavilions were 
erected for the accommodation of those who 
were taking part in the combats, and about 
the pavilions were hung the armorial shields 
to witness that the intending combatants were 
worthy of the fight in respect of noble birth, 
military prowess, and unspotted character. 

On one side of the lists galleries and grand- 
stands were set up, gay with gorgeous tapestry, 
and penons flying, and furnished with seats 
from which the king and his court might wit- 
ness the events of the day. On the opposite 
side was another gallery, almost equally gor- 
geous, where, surrounded by her attendant 

of the land. " It seemed," writes an old his- 
torian, "as if a new sun had arisen, on 
account of the abundance of peace, of the 
plenty and the glory of victories." We are 
told that "there were no women who had not 
got garments, furs, feather-beds, and utensils 
from the spoils of Calais and other foreign 
cities," and " then began the English maidens 
to glorify themselves in the dresses of the 
matrons of Celtic Gaul." 

The passion for tournaments as a sort of ex- 
pression of popular exultation was so great 
that the king felt compelled to regulate these 
festivals, as we have already said, allowing 
none to be held without his special permis- 




sion, although he himself appointed no less 
than nineteen such displays within six months. 

" It was like one long carnival," writes 
AVarburton, " for at these tournaments, as 
well as at the ' King's plays,' and indeed, on 
all public occasions, knights, citizens, men 
and women, and even the clergy, vied with 
each other in grotesque absurdity of dress. The 
king himself set the example of foppery and 
extravagance. He appeared once in ' a harness 
of white buckram, inlaid with silver namely, 
a tunic and shield, with the motto, 

' Hay, hay, the wythe swan ! 

By Goddes soul I am thy man ,' 

and gave -iway, among other costumes, ' five 
hoods of long white cloth, worked with blue 
men dancing,' ' two white velvet harnesses 
worked with blue garters, and diapered 
throughout with wild men!'" 

Upon the strip of grass between the lists and 
the high galleries where sat the nobility, there 
stood in crowds the yeomen and " bettermost" 
people from Eltham, Chislehurst, Bexley, 
and other manors of Kent, while the lower 
orders the labourers, serving men, and village 
folk, found standing room, as best they could, 
at a respectful distance. 

The buzz of conversation and excited talk is 
suddenly arrested by a flourish of trumpets, 
when the king's herald, in gorgeous dress, rides 
forth to proclaim the orders of the day, and 
the rules of the combats. 

Then necks were craned and eager ears 
strained to catch the herald's important utter- 
ances. It was a great tournament, and would 
extend over a week or a fortnight, or even 
longer, and prizes worthy of the occasion, and 
of the puissant prince by whose proclamation 
the festival was ordained, would be awarded to 
the valorous knights who fairly won them. 

The laws of the contests, recited in stentor- 
ian voice by the herald, had been elaborately 
prepared, under the personal supervision of 
the king, and were designed to secure that the 
engagements should be carried out consistently 
with the accepted rules 01 chivalry and knight- 

The herald, at the close of his oration, 
withdrew to the side, and then, from the ex- 
tremity of the lists, there rode forth, upon a 
magnificent charger, a knight in full armour, 
in appearance resembling one of those imposing 
figures illustrating the period which you may 
see for yourself to-day in the Tower of London. 
As he rode slowly down the lists there were 
murmurs expressing admiration of his knight- 
ly bearing. His lance was pointless, for it was 
not to be a combat a ovtrnnee. Eiding straight 
to a pavilion upon which were suspended the 
shields of the challengers, lie selected one and 
tapped it with the reverse of his lance, then 
quietly returned to the end of the lists whence 
he had come. 

In a short space of time, the owner of the 
shield, magnificently mounted, and clad in 
steel from head to foot, emerged slowly from 
the pavilion, and, proceeding to the opposite 
end of the lists, took up his position and 
faced his adversary. 

There was suppressed excitement and breath- 
less silence among the onlookers during the 
few moments preceding the charge. Then the 
king made a sign and the old " Tilt Yard " 
rang with the loud blaze of the trumpets. 

This was the signal for the opposing knights 
to plunge spurs into the sides of their chargers 
and to gallop towards each other at a frightful 
pace. They met in the middle of the lists with 
a crash that might have been heard as far away 
as the old wooden church, beyond the village 

The lighter knight of the two had the worst 
of the encounter. His lance was splintered, 
while that of his opponent, being planted 
plump into his visor, his horse was first forced 
back upon its haunches, and then reeled over 
with its rider upon the greensward. Then 
there were loud acclamations for the victor, 
and waving of kerchiefs, the vocal explosions 
being all the louder after having been pent up. 

Other contests followed, sometimes in singles, 
sometimes in doubles, and sometimes with 
as many as four or five on each side. Now and 
then there was a serious accident, a knight 
maimed, maybe, for life, and having to be 
carried ingloriously from the field. 



So were spent the days without doors, while 
withiii the palace there was feasting and mer- 

It is pleasant to dwell upon the tournaments 
as schools for the cultivation of chivalry, and 
all that was noble and valorous in knight- 
hood, but, alas, the best institutions devised 
by man are always liable to abuse. From 
what one can gather, the tournaments were no 
exceptions to the rule. 

When they were first introduced into this 
country by Edward I., the Church sternly set 
its face against the tournaments on account cf 
the vice with which they were attended. But 
as time went on we find that the clergy were 
less and less particular, till, at the period of 
which we are writing, they openly took part 
in these forbidden demonstrations. 

But their conduct came in for much condem- 
nation. They let their hair hang down their 
shoulders curled and powdered, as an old 
writer says, " thinking scorn of tonsure, which 
is a mark of the Kingdom of Heaven." They 
were dressed " more like soldiers than clerics, 
with an upper jump remarkably short and 
wide, long-hanging sleeves leaving the elbows 
uncoveT'pd. knives hanging at their sides to 
look like swords, shoes chequered with red and 
green exceeding and variously pinked, orna- 
mented cruppers to their saddles, and baubles 
like horns hanging down from the horses' 
necks. " 

This was indeed a, striking contrast with the 
sober garb with which we are used to associate 
clergymen. Well might there have been an 
outcry against them. 

But a stern old writer of the times also re- 
minds us that " Women, not the best in the 
kingdom, appeared at these tournaments, in 
divers wonderful male apparel, with divided 
tunics, one part of one colour and one of an- 
other, with short caps and bands in the manner 
of cords wound round the head, and with 
mitres of enormous height, decorated with 

streaming ribbons and carried in 

pouches across their bodies knives called 
daggers, and thus they proceeded on chosen 

coursers or other well groomed horses 

and so expended and devastated their goods 
and vexed their bodies with scurrilous wanton- 
ness, that the murmurs of the people sounded 
everywhere, and thus they neither feared God 
nor blushed at the chaste voice of the people." 

We have mentioned these things because we 
wanted to get as true a picture as we could of 
what the great Eltham tournaments were like 
in the days of Edward III. It is to be feared 
that notwithstanding all the glories of those 
notable occasions, they may have had their 
" seamy side." But let us hope that the Eltham 
episodes were not quite so objectionable 
as others in this respect. 




When a prisoner of war in England, John, 
the King of France, was on several occasions 
at Eltham Palace, and for near upon six 
centuries his name has been kept in memory 
closely associated with that of the royal 
village. There are people who think even that 
the Palace is called " King John's Palace," be- 
cause of his residence here, though it is more 
than likely that such a name is merely a mis- 
nomer for " I'rince John's Palace." 

This chivalrous monarch stands out so prom- 
inently in our local history that the story of 
Eltham would not be complete without a 
special account of his living here and the 
memorable events which led up to his cap- 

And, in telling the tale of John of France, 
we are bound to introduce another great prince 

of chivalry, who frequently visited Eltham, for 
his residence was no farther away than 

This was Edward the Black Prince, a soldier 
of immortal fame, the son of Edward III., who 
is described by an old poet as: 

"Edward, the flower of chivalry, whilom the 

the Black Prince hight, 
Who prisoner took the French King John, in 

claim of Grandame's right." 

England was at war with France. It is not 
necessary to explain here the cause of the war. 
You may read this in your history. But in 
the great campaign, Edward the Black Prince 
covered himself with glory. 

Crecy had been won. Calais had been cap- 
tured, and, in 1347, as described in the last 
chapter, England celebrated the occasion with 



great rejoicings, in which Eltham had its 

It was nine years after, in 1356, that Poitiers 
was fought, and the Black Prince added to his 
fame by winning one of the most remarkable 
victories recorded in history. 

With an army that barely exceeded 8,000 
men, he put to rout the French forces of about 
<50,000, containing all the flower of French 
knighthood an overwhelming force, splendidly 
armed, and properly handled, quite capable of 
swamping the little baud of Englishmen. 

Although efforts were made by Cardinal 
Perigord, on the day preceding the fight, to 
bring about an amicable arrangement between 
the opposing leaders, and although the Black 
Prince was prepared to listen to any terms 
that would save his own and his soldiers' 
honours, the good Cardinal's efforts proved 
futile, and Monday, September 19th, 1356, saw 
the historic fight. 

When the reconnoitring party of the English 
brought to their leader the news of the position 
of the enemy, and their prodigious numbers, 
the full danger of the position flashed upon the 
mind of the Prince. 

" God help us," he eaid, " all that is left us 
is to fight as best we can." 

The unexpected happened. Bad generalship 
and making too sure, on the part of the 
French, and brilliant generalship, backed by 
those famous archers who could shoot so 
straight, and the "do or die" spirit which per- 
vaded their ranks, on the English side, resulted 
in the confusion and rout of the French. 

What a stirring chapter is Froissart's 
account of this battle! And what a noble 
figure in the great struggle is that of the 
French King John. 

" King John, on his part," says the 
chronicler, "proved himself a good knight, 
and, had a fourth of his people behaved so 
well, the field would have been hie." 

There he stood, battle axe in hand, in the 
thickest of the fight, striking to the right and 
left; woe to any man who came within the reach 
of its deadly swing; and, strangest of all 

sights, crouching close behind him, with his 
arm around his father's waist, was his little 
son, Philip, warning the king of unexpected 
attacks. Keeping his eyes constantly on his 
father, and neglecting all thoughts of himself, 
he cried out, as he saw any blow about to be 
struck at the king: 

"Father, guard yourself on the right; guard 
yourself on the left." 

King John was twice wounded and once 
beaten to the ground, but he rose again, reply- 
ing with fresh blows to every fresh command 
of surrender. 

"Then there was a great press to take the 
king," writes Froissart, "and such as knew 
him cried : 

" 'Sir, yield you, or else ye are dead/ " 

'There was a knight called Sir Denis 
Morbeke, who had served the Englishmen five 
years before, because in his youth he had for- 
feited the realm of France for a murder that 
he did at Saint-Omer's. It happened so well 
for him that he was next to the king when they 
were about to take him. 

He stepped forth into the press, and by 
strength of his body and arms he came to the 
French king, and said in good French: 

"'Sir, yield you!"' 

The king beheld the knight and said: 

'"To whom shall I yield me? Where is my 
cousin the Prince of Wales? If I might see 
him, I would speak with him.' " 

Denis answered and said: 

"'Sir, he is not here; but yield you to me 
and I shall bring you to him.' " 

"'Who b you?'" quoth the king. 

" 'Sir,' " quoth he, " 'I am Dennis of 
Morbeke, a knight of Artois; but I serve the 
King of England because I was banished the 
realm of France, and I have forfeited all that 
I had there.' " 

Then the King gave him his right gauntlet, 
and said: 

" ' I yield me to you.' " 

There was great press about the king, for 
every man enforced him to say, 'I have taken 
him,' no that the king could not go forward 



with his young eon the lord Philip with him, 
because of the press." 

* * * * 

"The Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), 
who was courageous and cruel as a lion, took 
that day great pleasure to fight and to chase 
his enemies. The lord John Chandos, who was 
with him, of all that day, never left him nor 
never took heed of taking of any prisoner: then 
at the end of the battle he said to the prince: 

' Sir, it were good that you rested here and 
set your banner a-high in this bush, that your 
people may draw hither, for they are sore 
spread abroad, nor I can see no more banners 
nor pennons of the French party; wherefore, 
sir, rest and refresh you, for ye be sore chafed.' 

" Then the prince's banner was set up a-high 
on a bush, and trumpets and clarions began 
to sown. Then the prince took off his baseenet, 
and the knights for his body and they of his 
chamber were ready about him, and a red 
pavilion pight up, and then drink was brought 
forth to the prince, and for such lords as were 
about him, the which still increased as they 
came from the chase; there they tarried and 
their prisoners with them. 

" And when the two marshalls were oome to 
the prince, he demanded of them if they knew 
any tidings of the French king. They 
answered and said: 

" ' Sir, we hear none of certainty, but we 
think verily he is other (either) dead or taken, 
for he is not gone out of the battles.' 

"Then the prince said to the Earl of War- 
wick and to Sir Raynold Cobham: 

' Sirs, I require you, go forth, and see what 
ye can know, and at your return ye may show 
me the truth.' 

These two lords took their horses and de- 
parted from the prince and rode up a little hill 
to look about them. Then they perceived a 
flock of men of arms coming together right 
wearily; there was the French king afoot in 
great peril, for Englishmen and Gascons were 
his masters; they had taken him from Sir 
Denis Morbeke perforce, and fuch as were 
most of force, said, 

' I have taken him.' 

' Nay,' quoth another, ' I have taken him.' 
So they strave which should have him. 

Then, the French king, to eschew that peril, 

'Sirs, strive not; lead me courteously, and 
my son, to uiy cousin the prince, and strive not 
for my taking, for I am so great a lord to make 
you all rich!' 

The king's words somewhat appeased them; 
howbeitever as they went they made riot and 
brawled for the taking of the king. 

When the two aforesaid lords saw and heard 
that noise and strife among them, they went 
to them and said: 

' Sirs, what is the matter that you strive 
for ' 

' Sirs,' said one of them, ' it is the French 
king, who is here taken prisoner, and there be 
more than ten knights and squires that chal- 
lengeth the taking of him and of his son.' 

"Then the two lords entered into the press 
and caused eiery man to draw aback, and com- 
manded them in the prince's name on pain of 
their heads to make no more noise nor to ap- 
proach the king no nearer without they wera 
commanded. Then every man gave room to 
the lords, and they alighted and did their 
reverence to the king, and so brought him and 
his son in peace and rest to the Prince of 

* * * 

Thus did Froissart record the taking of King- 
John of France by the Black Prince, and the 
thrilling account is of particular interest to 
Eltham people. Not only were the royal 
captive and the royal captor associated with 
our village, but the chronicler himself was 
afterwards a visitor at Eltham, so the whole 
incident, thus described, becomes trebly in- 

The Black Prince won great glory upon the 
field of Poitiers. And the glory of the warrior 
has been enhanced by the knightly courtesy 
which he shewed the captive king, who was 
now at his mercy. 
Read, again, what Froissart says: 
"The same day of the battle at night the- 
prince made a supper in his lodging to the- 



French king, and to the most part of the great 
lords that were prisoners. The prince made 
the king and his son, the lord James of Bour- 
bon, the lord John d'Artois, and other lords, to 
sit all at one board, and other lords, knights, 
and squires, at other tables. 

"And always the prince served before the 
king as humbly as he could, and would not sit 
at the king's board for any desire that the king 
could make, but he said he was not sufficient 
to sit at the table with so great a prince as 
the king was. 

"But then he said to the king: 

' Sir, for God's sake, make none evil nor 
heavy cheer, though God this day did not con- 
sent to follow your will; for, sir, surely the 

king, my father, shall bear you as much honour 
and amity as he may do, and shall accord with 
you so reasonably that ye shall ever be friendg 
together after. And, sir, methink ye ought to 
rejoice, though the journey be not as ye could 
have had it, for this day ye have won the 
high renown of prowess, and have passed this 
day in vailiantness all other of your party. 
Sir, I say not this to mock you, for all that be 
on our party, that saw every man's deeds, are 
plainly accorded by true sentence to give you 
the prize and chaplet.' 

Therewith the Frenchmen began to murmur 
and said among themselves how the prince had 
nobly spoken, and that by all estimation he 
should prove a noble man, if God send him 
life and to persevere in such good fortune." 




The battle of Poitiers resulted in the rout of 
the French army with terrible carnage, and the 
capture of King John the Good, with crowds 
of his nobles, and some two thousand men at 

We read that our Black Prince distinguished 
himself mightily in the field that day, setting 
an example of personal prowess which was 
followed by his intrepid knights. It may be 
said of the English at Poitiers as was said of 
the Scotch at Flodden: 

"Groom fought like noble, squire like knight, 
As fearlessly and well." 

The day after the battle (Tuesday, September 
20th, 1356) the English Army, greatly encum- 
bered with spoils and prisoners, marched to 
the city of Bordeaux, where a treaty of peace 
to last for two years was concluded with Charles, 
Duke of Normandy, who, since the capture of 
his father, was acting as the Eegent of France. 

The Black Prince had determined to detain 
his royal prisoner, and convey him to England. 
But there was a little account to be settled. 
The question of the claim for the King's 
capture was still being hotly disputed. 

" In those days a prisoner taken ' to mercy ' 
in battle became the absolute property and 
chattel of his captor; but when the prisoner 
was of exalted rank, and the captor a simple 
soldier of fortune, the king generally specu- 
lated on the ransom of the captive, and secured 
his custody for his own purposes by paying 
over what seemed a small sum from the royal 
exchequer, but was in all probability a large 
one relatively to the means of the captor." 

So the Black Prince paid De Morbecq, who 
was the real captor of the French King, the 
sum of 2,000 marks, a mark being worth about 
13s. 4d. It is interesting, however, to note that 
when, subsequently, the question of the king's 
ransom had to be settled, it was fixed at three 
million crowns of gold, a sum equivalent to 
about 450,000 sterling. So the bargain which 
the Black Prince struck with De Morbecq was, 
after all, a profitable speculation. 

The Prince and his royal prisoner set sail 
for England from the port of Bordeaux, and 
after a stormy passage, which lasted eleven 
days, the party landed safely at Sandwich. 

Let us now read Froissart's account of the 
journey to London, which, of course, was made 
on horseback. He makes no mention of Eltham 
in this journey, and it is very probable that 
the party passed along the Old Dover-road over 
Shooter's-hill, and did not pass through the 

" Then they issued out of their ships," writes 
Froissart, "and lay there (Sandwich) all that 
night, and tarried there two days to refresh 
them, and on the third day they rode to Canter- 

"When the King of England knew of their 
coming, he commanded them of London to pre- 
pare them and their city to receive such a man 
as the French King was. Then they of London 
arrayed themselves by companies and the chief 
mesters with clothing different each from the 

"At Saint Thomas of Canterbury, the French 
King, and the prince made their offerings, and 
tarried a day, and then rode to Kochester and 



tarried there that day, and the next day to 
Dartford and the fourth day to London, where 
they were honourably received, and so they 
were in every good town as they passed. 

The French king rode through London on a 
white courser, well apparelled, and the prince 
(the Black Prince) on a little black hobby by 

The spectacle of the conqueror riding upon a 
pony by the side of the captive king, who was 
mounted on a fine charger, has been the subject 
of much comment by historians, and is set 
forth as evidence of the modesty and courtesy 
of the Black Prince. But Warburton says, " it 
is difficult altogether to acquit him of affectation 
and self-consciousness on the occasion of this 
ride into the city of London, the account of 
which reads more like that of a Eoman tri- 
umph than of an English welcome. A thousand 
citizens in the dress of their respective guilds, 
and headed by the Lord Mayor, received them 
at Southwark, and marched back with them 
in procession to the city. Arches were thrown 
across the streets; trophies of arms and gold 
and silver plate were exhibited in the windows, 
and all, as it was said, in honour of the van- 
quished king." 

Presently, they arrived at the Savoy Palace, 
which was the residence of John of Gaunt, 
Duke of Lancaster, an elder brother of the 
Black Prince. In this palace the French king 
and his young son Philip were lodged. 

" There," writes Froissart, " the French king 
kept house a long season, and thither came 
to see him, the king, and queen oftentimes, and 
made him great feast and cheer." 
* * * 

It will be noticed that King John the Good 
was not treated in the way that prisoners of 
war are usually. His word of honour not to 
escape was accepted, and he enjoyed much 
liberty, he and "all his household, and went 
a-hunting and a-hawking at his pleasure, and 
the lord Philip, his son, with him." 

It is most likely that on such occasions as 
these King John of France paid those visits 
to Eltham which identified his name so closely 
with the village. 

Apropos of this there is a curious story told 
by Villani, a foreign historian of the time, rela- 
tive to the coming of the French king. 

He says that while the royal party, the Black 
Prince, and his prisoners were on their way 
from Sandwich to London, they fell in with 
King Edward, who was hunting in a forest 
through which they had to pass. 

" Whether in levity or simplicity," writes 
Warburton, " Edward invited the captive 
monarch to join him in the chase; and on his 
declining this ill-timed offer, assured King John 
that he was quite at liberty to enjoy himself 
in hunting or ' at the river/ when and where 
he pleased during his stay in England; then, 
sounding his horn, he spurred on after his 
hounds, and was lost in the woods." 

The story seems very improbable when one 
considers the character of Edward III., who, 
" though far from being a perfect character, 
was rarely found wanting in the tact and 
delicacy which became a true knight, or (to 
translate into modern phrase) in the instincts 
of a gentleman." 

It is quite likely that Villani derived this 
anecdote from some gossip or other relating 
to the freedom which the nominal captive en- 
joyed, and it is equally likely that such gossip 
may have arisen from some incident that 
occurred in the forests of this particular neigh- 

* * * 

King John of France was in captivity in 
England for the space of some four years. 
Meanwhile things had been going very badly 
in France. There had been an uprising of the 
people, known as the outbreak of the "Jac- 
querie," accompanied by much bloodshed and 
devastation. The two years' peace with England 
had expired, and Edward was again in France 
with his fighting men. Of all this you must 
read in your book on history. 

At last an agreement was come to by which 
King John of France was to be ransomed for 
3,000,000 crowns of gold. Of this 600,000 crowns 
were to be paid before the captive king was 
allowed to pass out of the gates of Calais, and 
the remainder of the debt was to be cleared 
off by annual payments of 400,000 crowns. 



The bill was a heavy one, and there was great 
difficulty in raising the money; nevertheless, 
the Black Prince conveyed his prisoner from 
London to Calais, and there the treaty was 
duly ratified, "both kings kneeling before the 
altar, taking into their hands the consecrated 
Host, and swearing to the faithful observance 
of their engagement on the ' body of Christ.' " 

The first instalment of the ransom, 600,000 
crowns, was raised in an unexpected way. A 
wealthy Italian nobleman, the head of the 
powerful house of Vesconti, sought the hand 
of King John's youngest daughter, in marriage 
for his son, and offered to pay this part of 
the ransom when such marriage took place. 

The offer was accepted. King John was given 
his liberty, and the Duke of Orleans, together 
with the second and third sons of King John, 
the Dukes of Berri and Anjou, and other mem- 
bers of the royal family, and forty citizens 
from the principal cities of France, were re- 
tained as hostages for the remainder of the 

In 1363, a year or two afterwards, the "Lords 
of the Fleur de Lys "Orleans, Berri, and 
Anjou being rather tired of exile sought per- 
mission of King Edward to visit their native 
France, " giving their word of honour that they 
would return on the fourth day." 

The Duke of Anjou broke his word, and did 
not return; King Edward then wrote a letter 
to him, and asked him to return " for that by 
his treachery he had tarnished the honour of 
himself and all his lineage." 

King John, the father of the Duke, was so 
deeply affected by this lapse from honour on 
the part of his son, regarding the action as a 
reflection upon the honour of himself that he 
resolved to yield himself up again to captivity. 

Thus came about his second visit to England, 
this time as a voluntary exile. 

It is not surprisng that he was received in 
this country with every sign of veneration and 
respect, and that our village of Eltham took a 
conspicuous share in these expressions. 

Head again what Froissart has said : 

" News was brought to the King of England, 
who at that time was with his Queen at 
Eltham, a very magnificent palace which tlie 
king had, seven miles from London, that the 
King of France had lauded at Dover. 

"He immediately ordered many knights of 
his household to go and congratulate the king 
on his arrival; the lord Bartholomew Burg- 
harsh, knight of the garter, Sir Richard Pern- 
bridge, Sir Allen Boxhall, both knights of th 
garter, and several others. 

" They took leave of King Edward, and rode 
towards Dover, where they found the King of 
France, who had remained there since his 
arrival. They attended and conducted him 
with every mark of respect and honour, as they 
well knew how to do. 

" Among other compliments, they told him 
that the king, their lord, was much rejoiced at 
his coming, which the King of France readily 
believed. On the morrow morning, the king 
and his attendants were on horseback early, 
and rode to Canterbury, where they dined. On 
entering the Cathedral, the king paid his devo- 
tions at the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket, and 
presented to it a rich jewel of great value. 

"The third day he set out taking the road 
to London, and rode on until he came to 
Elthani, where the King of England was with 
a number of lords, ready to receive him. It 
was on a Sunday, in the afternoon, when he 
arived, and there were, therefore, between this 
time and supper time, many good dances and 

" The young lord of Coucy was there a 
grandson of the first Duke of Swabia who took 
pains to shine in his dancing and singing when- 
ever it was his turn. He was a great favourite 
with both the French and English, for what- 
ever he chose to do, he did well and with grace. 

" I can never relate how very honourably 
and majestically the King and Queen of Eng- 
land received King John. On leaving Eltham 
he went to London, and as he came near, he 
was met by the citizens dressed out in their 
proper companies, who greeted and welcomed 



him with much reverence, and attended him 
with large bands of minstrels, unto the palace 
of the Savoy, which had been prepared for 

It was here that he died soon after. His 
body was embalmed, and put into a coffin, and 
conveyed to Paris, where it was interred with 
great solemnity. 




We have frequently alluded to Froissart, and 
in the last few chapters have quoted extensively 
from his Chronicles. Moreover, he knew 
Kl: ham so well, and wrote about it so often, 
that it would be a good thing, perhaps, for the 
information of our young friends, if we gave 
some little account of this remarkable man 

Jean Froissart was a Frenchman, born near 
Valenciennes, about 1337, and his ancestors 
were of lowly origin. We do not know much 
of his childhood, but we find that he was a 
great favourite with Thilippa, the romantic 
queen of Edward III., who encouraged him in 
his literary pursuits. 

It does not seem clear at what time he became 
a priest, but it is interesting to learn that when 
John of France was a captive here, Jean Frois- 
sart was his secretary, and it was then that 
he began to collect all that gossipy information 
which makes his Chronicles so intensely in- 
teresting. It was after this time that he set 
about his great history in real earnest, journey- 
ing from place to place on the Continent, 
collecting much of his material first hand, and 
writing down his impressions in that delight- 
ful way of his. 

When King John of France returned to exile, 
as recorded in our last chapter, Froissart came 
with him, and then it was that he traversed 
again our Eltham lanes, and looked once more 
upon the " beautiful palace which King Edward 
III. had there." 

The reception given to his master seems to 
have impressed him very much, for he has not 
only left a graphic record of the occasion in 
his Chronicles, but he also wrote a charming 

poem, which it has been our good fortune to 
discover, for it gives a pretty little glimpse of 
the form the jubilations took at Eltham. 

The credit of finding these quaint verses rests 
with our esteemed Librarian. Mr. E. A. Baker, 
who, in the course of some studies in Old 
French Literature, came across them unexpec- 
tedly, and at once drew our attention to them. 
The curious thing is that no student of local 
history seems, hitherto, to have known of them; 
at any rate, we can find no allusion to them 
anywhere. It is with all the greater pleasure, 
therefore, that we present them to our readers 
now. We give them, in the first place, in the 
Old French, exactly as Froissart wrote them, 
with its quaint spelling and old time expres- 
sions. Those who know Old French will find 
pleasure in construing the verses. Those who 
do not, will like them in that form, perhaps, 
to preserve as a sort of local literary curiosity. 

But, in the interests of those who are not 
familiar with the language at all, with the kind 
and ready co-operation of Miss May, one of 
the lecturers at Avery-hill, and Mr. E. A. 
Baker, both of whom are well versed in Old 
French literature, we have been able to write a 
metrical translation, in which we have 
endeavoured to preserve, not only the form of 
the original, but to interpret its spirit. 

There seems to be some mystery about the 
lines in the fourth verse, beginning with : 
"Et si bien se desigeroit, Ac. 4 ' 

It is not at all clear who the person is that 
disguises himself. To satisfy ourselves we pro- 
ceeded to the British Museum, and hunted up 
Seheler, who is the greatest French authority 
upon Froissart. It was some sort of satisfac- 

















a w 
I h 
































oo X 

6 H 





Q H 








tion to find that Scheler cannot explain the 
allusion; he is as mystified over it as we were. 

For the benefit of our younger readers we 
might explain that St. Denis, alluded to in the 
poem, is the Patron Saint of France, and the 
"Fleur de Lys," literally, "the Flower of the 
Lily," was formerly the national emblem of 
the French. 

So far as can be discovered, no translation 
of this poem has ever been before printed in 
English, but though more than five centuries 
have elapsed since Froissart wrote the verses, 
referring, as they do to an Eltham incident, 
it seems quite consistent, that its first con- 
struing into our own tongue, should emanate 
from Eltham itself. 


(Composed on the occasion of the return of the 
French King John to his nominal captivity in 
England, at the beginning of 1364, when he was 
received by Edward III. with great festivities.) 

Entre Eltem et Westmoustier, 
En une belle preorie, 
Cuesci pastoureaus avant heir 
La avoit en la compagnie 
Mainte faitioe pastourelle, 
Dont au son d'une canemelle 
Cascuns et cascune dansoit, 
Dist uns bregiers qui la estoit; 
Efforcons nous, pour Saint Denis 
Car errant par ci passer doit 

Cils qui porte les flours de lys.' 

Adont dist Mares dou Vivier 
' Or me dittes. je vous en prie, 
Porte il ces flours en un panier, 
Ou il les donne, ou il les crie? 
Qu'en vent il plain une escuielle? 
C'est une flourette moult belle ; 
De la flour de lys orendroit, 
Qui un chapel fait en auroit, 
II en seroit trop plus jolis; 
Je croi que bien en fineroit 

Gils qui porte les flours de lys. 

Pour ce me vodrai avancier 
Et aler ent a chiere lie 
Vers lui, et li vodrai proyer 
Qu'il m'en doinst par sa courtoisie, 

Et il aura ma coinuielle, 
La mousette et la flahutelle, 
Dout mon frere m'esbanioit,' 
Dist Raouls qui oi' 1'avoit : 
' Esce or a bon sens qne tu dis? 
Guides tu qu'un bregier ce soit 
Cils qui porte les flours de lys?' 

' Nennil, point n'est de no mestier, 
Ains est rois de noble lignie 
Si que pour li mieuls festyer, 
It nous couvient a ceste fie 
Mettre en ordenance nouvelle.' 
'C'est voirs,' ce respont Peronnelle 
Qui moult bien o'ie 1'avoit, 
' Et si bien se desgiseroit, 
Mes qu'il eui'st tous ses abis, 
Que ja ne la eognisteroit 

Cils qui porte les flours de lys! 

Lors prisent a entrechangier 
Leurs abis de la bregerie. 
Gobins vesti un grant loudier 
Et Guois une sousquanie, 
Sus se chaindi d'une cordelle; 
Et Perratins sus une aisselle 
D'un blanc bastoncel tamburoit, 
Et Adins la danse menoit, 
Qui souvent disoit par grans ris: 
' Dies, pourquoi ores ne nous voit 

Cils qui porte les flours de lys? 

Princes, je les vi la endrolt, 
Ou cascune et cascuns chantoit 
A 1'usage de leur pays: 
' Li tres bien venus ores soit 

Cils qni porte les flours de lys.' 




Betwixt Eltham and Westminster, 
Yestreen I saw a meadow fair, 
Wherein a band of shepherds were, 
In merry guise and debonair. 
And. therewith, many a shepherd maid 
Went dancing as the pipe was played, 
And youth and wench they stepped it 


When cried aloud a merry wight, 
"Our cheers for good St. Denis be, 
For here shall pass before this night 
The one that bears the fleurs de lys." 




Quoth Maurice de Vivier joyously, 
"Oh, tell me now, forsooth, I pray, 
A pannierful, then, bringeth he, 
To sell for pence, or give away? 
Eight beautiful the fleurs de lys ! 
A bowlful will he sell to me? 
Sure, he that crieth flowers so fair, - 
Thereof a garland ought to wear, 
It were a pleasant sight to see, 
He'd soon get rid of them, I swear, 

The one that bears the fleurs de lys. 

"Good sooth," then answered Peronelle, 
That well had heeded Ralph's reply, 
"If all his clothes he had but nigh, 
A fair disguise I ween 'twould be, 
For none would know him passing by, 
Not he that bears the fleurs de lys." 

And so they gan to interchange 
Their shepherd's habits, every one, 
And Gobiu wore a tunic strange, 
Anon did Guy a smock put on, 
Which with a cord he straightly tied, 


And so with thee I fain would go, 
To meet him with the fleurs de lys, 
And beg he'll some of them bestow 
On me, all of his courtesy. 
And unto him I'll give my horn, 
My flute and pipe, to wake the morn, 
Whereon my brother used to play" ' 
But Kalph, who heard him, answered 


What sense is this thou speak'st so free, 
Think'st thou that he's a shepherd, pray, 

The one that bears the fleurs de lys? 

Nay, he is none of our degree, 
He is a King of noble line; 
And so, to do him honour, we 
The parts we play should now assign, 
And in new order bear us well." 

And Perrotin, he gaily plied 
The drum that 'neath his elbow lay, 
And Adam led the morris gay, 
And laughed aloud in merry glee, 
" Lord ! might he see us here to-day 
The one that bears the fleurs de lys ! " 
Princes, in truth, I saw them there, 
They sang it to a native air 

Those youths and maidens bright of 

" Welcome to him that cometh here, 
The one that bears the fleur de lys' " 

* * * 

From this it will be seen that they had a 
merry time of it on the occasion of King John's 
last visit to Eltham. Yes, last. Ere many weeks 
the " King of noble line " who bore " the fleurs 
de lys," was sick unto death. 



Two years later (1366) Froissart left England, 
but returned again after an absence of forty 
years. He was an old man when he visited 
Eltham on that last occasion, and brought with 
him his book about "Lore," for the edification 
of the unhappy Richard II. Great changes had 
taken place within those 40 years. Of this we 
will speak in another chapter. It is interesting 

to note that with his last visit to England hia 
work as a chronicler seems to have ended. The 
closing pages of his book describe the death 
of Richard. After this the fate of the historian 
himself becomes obscure. It' is sad to learn 
how tradition asserts that he died in utter 
poverty at Chimay ten years after his return 
to France. He was buried in the church of 

RICHARD II. (In Jerusalem Chamber). 



Richard of Bordeaux, born 1366, was the sou 
of Edward the Black Prince, aiid Joan, known 
as the "Fair Maid of Kent." The Black 
Prince died when Eichard was ten years old. 
In the same year, 1376, Edward III. was lying 
eick at Eltham, and here it was that the king 
summoned a parliament; and the young prince 
Richard was, on that occasion, created Prince 
of Wales. 

It should be noted that parliaments were not 
always held at one place, a? they are now at 
Westminster. The king could summon his 
councillors to any meeting-place that seemed to 
him convenient. So there are records of par- 
liaments meeting at London, Gloucester, York, 
and other places, including Eltham. 

The very next year, Edward III., after a 
reign of 50 years, died, and the young Prince 
of Wales became the " Boy King," his age, 
when he succeeded to the throne, being only tl 
years. Rarely has a monarch entered upon his 
kingly responsibilities with brighter prospects 
of a happy reign. But, alas ! clouds eoon arose, 
and history records few things more pathetic 
than ihe tragedy of this young king's life. 

It began in sunshine and splendour. An old 
historian writes: "There are enthusiastic re- 
joicings to welcome the beautiful boy as he is 
brought from the Tower to Westminster to be 
crowned. There are around him a devoted 
multitude of nobles, knights, and esquires, that 
dazzle his eye with their costly adornments. 
The streets they pass through on their gor- 



geously-caparisoned coursers are hung with 
floating draperies, the windows are full of 
gazers. The air resounds with rapturous 
shouts : ' God bless the royal boy ! Long live 
King Richard!' 

"In Cheapside golden angels bend to him 
from the towers of mimic castles, presenting 
crowns; and at other places he is met by beau- 
tiful virgins of his own age and stature, robed 
in white, who blow leaves and flowers of gold 
in his face, and, as he approaches nearer, they 
fill gold cups from the conduits flowing with 
wine, and hand to him. High and low delight 
to honour him for his father's sake. His 
plastic imagination is, of course, most highly 
wrought upon by the magnificent pageants, and 
by the unbounded adulation that he witnesses 
on all eides. They bewilder his reason, and 
make him fancy that he is a god, long before 
he is a man." 

Froissart, writing of him, eays: "There was 
none eo great in England that dared speak 
against anything that the king did. He had 
a council suitable to his fancies, who exhorted 
him to do what he list; he kept in his wages 
ten thousand archers, who watched over him 
day and night." 

What wonder is it that he became a slave to 
selfish luxury? The effect of all this adulation 
and worship was disastrous upon a character 
that, unlike that of his father and grandfather, 
was decidedly weak. When, at the age of 23, 
he took over the responsibilities of government, 
he was incapable of dealing adequately with 
the difficult questions which the conditions of 
the times forced upon him. 

Richard II. frequently visited Eltham. He 
held several parliaments here, and much impor- 
tant business of state was transacted at Eltham 
Palace during this reign. 

In the year 1381, four years after his acces- 
sion, when, as yet, the king was only a boy of 
sixteen, there took place the insurrection of 
the peasantry, in which Kent played so promi- 
nent a part. Its immediate cause was the imposi- 
tion of the poll-tax, but ite real cause lay in 
the general discontent of the working classes 
with the manorial system. Although the social 
condition of the peasantry had undergone some 

change for the better during the preceding cen- 
tury, the system of villeinage was still recog- 
nised, families were still bought and sold with 
the estates, and terrible abuses were practised. 
The culminating point was the poll-tax, 
which resulted in the resistance of Wat Tyler, 
at Dartford, followed by the rising of the 
peasants of Kent, the looting and destruction 
of manors, and the killing of many officials 
and landed gentry. 

All around Eltham the district was affected, 
and from every direction the countrymen 
marched in bands towards Blackheath, which 
was the rallying point prior to the great des- 
cent upon London. The old road over Shooter's- 
hill must have presented a very striking ap- 
pearance in those troublous clays, and the 
cottagers of Eltham, whatever part they may 
have played in the revolt, must have exper- 
ienced considerable excitement when they wit- 
nessed the bands of lawless men, who had left 
their ploughs and oxen in the Kentish fields, 
thronging, in their thousands, towards the 

Did the Eltham men take any part in the 
rebellion? This was the problem that interes- 
ted us. It was impossible that the Eltham 
villagers should not have been under its in- 
fluence at all, seeing how near at hand some 
of the great scenes of the drama were played. 
It was from Dartford that Wat the Tyler set 
forth upon his lawless and tragic career. It 
was at Blackheath that the priest, John Ball, 
delivered one of his most characteristic 
speeches. But, after diligent search, we can 
discover no record of Eltham men being mixed 
up with the rebellion. There are old writings 
to shew the scope and work of the Commission 
which sat, soon after the event, for the trial 
and punishment of the ringleaders in the 
movement. One can discover names of people 
from Deptford, Blackheath, Dartford, and 
other places, but we can find no Eltham names. 

Nor does it seem that any attempt was made 
to destroy the Palace. In other Kentish 
villages the manor houses were the special ob- 
ject of attack. They were looted and burned, 
and in cases where escape was delayed, their 
occupants were cruelly murdered. But Eltham 
Palace escaped the fury of the mob. 

1 1A 



We hardly need wonder at this. Eltham was 
a Royal Manor, and the labourers would have 
been the less likely to join in an insurrection 
of the kind. Then, the wrath of the insur- 
gents was not directed against the king so much 
as against the nobility. They even professed 
that they were desirous of getting the king upon 
their side. Certain it is that the purpose of 
the rising was to induce the king to grant them 
concessions. Under these circumstances it 
would be more likely than not, that Eltham, 
being a royal demesne, was designedly left 

The circumstance of the king's mother seems 
to suggest that their attitude towards the king 
was not one of particular enmity. She chanced 
to fall into their hands at Blackheath, but, 
although they were flushed with success and 
their hands were yet red with the blood of the 
Kentish gentry, they allowed her to proceed 
upon her way. 

"The same day," writes Froissart, "that 
these unhappy people were coming to London, 
there returned from Canterbury the king's 
mother, Princess of Wales, coming from her 
pilgrimage. She was in great jeopardy to have 
been lost, for these people came to her chare 
and dealt rudely with her, whereof the good 
lady was in great doubt lest they would have 
done some villainy to her and to her damsels. 
Howbeit, God kept her, and she came in one 
day from Canterbury to London, for she never 
durst tarry by the way." 

The old historian Holinshed makes Eltham 
Palace the scene of the leave-taking of Henry 
Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, when on his 
way to banishment. The story of the quarrel 
between Hereford and Norfolk, the tournament 
at Coventry, and the unexpected interference 
of the king, who stopped the fight, and banished 
Norfolk for life and Hereford for ten years, is 
no doubt familiar to our young readers of 

But the incident was one that really arose 
out of the weak government of Richard, who, 
as the age of manhood approached, shewed 

more and more how incapable he was of man- 
aging the affairs of the country. Though the 
banishment of these two powerful nobles, one 
of whom, Bolingbroke, was his cousin, removed 
from the country two men that the king feared 
greatly, it was fraught with terrible conse- 
quences for Richard himself. Norfolk never 
returned, but the day arrived when the courtly 
Bolingbroke came back with armed men to 
claim his rights, and ultimately to mount the 
throne from which the weak and effeminate 
Richard was deposed. 

The story is set forth in one of the finest of 
Shakespeare's plays. The Eltham incident, 
however, finds no place in the drama. Shakes- 
peare makes the final dismissal to take place at 
Coventry, and Bolingbroke does not return 
until he comes in force. But the playwright 
is allowed licence to ignore, and, sometimes, 
even to distort historical facts when necessary 
for his play. Shakespeare never neglected to 
use this privilege whenever he thought fit. 

The following, however, is what Holinshed, 
the Chronicler, has to say about it: 

" When these judgements were once read, the 
king called before him both parties (Hereford 
and Norfolk), and made them to swear that the 
one should never come in place where the other 
was willinglie; nor keep any companie togither 
in any foreign region; which oth they both 
received humblie. 

" The Duke of Norfolk departed sorrowfullie 
out of the relme into Almanie, and at the last 
came to Venice, where he, for thought and 
melancholic, deceased; for he was in hope (as 
writers record) that he should have been home, 
which, when it fell out otherwise, grieved him 
not a little. 

" The Duke of Hereford took his leave of the 
king at Eltham, who there released foure 
years of his punishment; so he took his journie 
over into Calis, and from thence into France, 
where he remained. 

"A wonder it was to see what number of 
people ran after him in every town and street 
where he came, before he took the eea, lament- 



ing and bewailing his departure, as who would 
saie, that when he departed, the onelie shield, 
defence, and comfort of the common wealth 
was faded and gone." 

Thus did Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, 
take leave of his royal master at the Palace of 
Eltham. The next time we read of him at 
Eltham he was King Henry IV. 




The three successive Christmases from 1384 
to 1386 were kept by King Eichard II. and 
Queen Anne, at Eltham. We find it hard to 
realise, even in these days, the splendour of 
the English Court at this time. Holinshed tells 
MS that "Richard II. kept greater state than 
any English king before or after him. Ten 
thousand people had meat and drink allowed 
them daily at his Court; he had three hundred 
servants, and as many female servants; his 
yeomen and grooms were clad in silk, and all 
were sumptuously apparelled. Extravagance 
affected all classes, to the great hindrance and 
decay of the Commonwealth." 

We cannot suppose that such vast numbers 
as those given above could find accommodation 
at Eltham, but we may very well believe that 
the Courts held at the royal village during the 
residence of this king were no less splendid and 
extravagant than those of the other palaces. 
* # # # 

In the year 1385, Eltham was honoured by 
the visit of Leo, King of Armenia. The cir- 
cumstances of the visit are interesting. 

King Leo had had the misfortune to be driven 
out of his kingdom by the Turks. So he went 
to the King of France, and entreated him to 
give him means to help him to regain his 
kingdom. The King of France was not only 
sympathetic, but disposed to give material 
aid, for to fight the infidel Turk was accounted 
a worthy thing in those days. 

Now it happened that the King of France 
was not on good terms with the King of 
England, and war between them was likely. 
King Leo of Armenia was anxious to avert 
war between the two countries, because such 

an event would probably deprive him of any 
chance of getting money from France or 
England, to enable him to go and fight the un- 
speakable Turk. 

So it came to pass that Leo offered the King 
of France to visit the King of England as a 
sort of intermediary or peace maker. 

" On his arrival at Dover," writes Froissart, 
" he was well received, and conducted by 
some knights to the king's uncles, who enter- 
tained him handsomely; and, at proper oppor- 
tunity, asked him what were his reasons for 
visiting England. 

To this he answered that he had come to 
wait upon the King of England and his council, 
in the hopes of doing good, and to see if by 
any means he could negotiate a peace between 
them and the King of France. 

The English lords then asked him if the King 
of France had sent him. 

" No," replied the King of Armenia, " no 
one has sent me. I am come of my own accord, 
and solely with a view to do good." 

Then they asked where the King of France 

" I believe he is at Sluys," replied the king, 
" and I have sent to him messengers, entreat- 
ing him not to put to sea until I return. I, 
therefore, beg of you to give me an interview 
with your king." 

Thomas, Earl of Buckingham, answered, 
" King of Armenia, we are here solely to guard 
and defend the frontiers, and we do not concern 
ourselves in any way with the government of 
this realm. Some motives of good, or the 
appearance of them, have brought you hither 



you are welcome; but you must not expect from 
us any definite answer to what you ask, though 
we will have you conducted to London, with- 
out danger or expense." 

The King of Armenia thanked them, and 
as soon as he was able, set out for London." 
* * # * 

So Leo, the King, went to London, and thence 
to Eltham, and in the presence of the King 
of England delivered himself of his mission. 
After four days of consideration the follow- 
ing reply, prepared by the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, was given to him. 

" King of Armenia, it is not usual, nor has 
it ever been admitted, that in such weighty 
matters as these now in dispute between 
France and England, the King of England 
should have requests made him, while an army 
is ready to invade his country. Our opinion 
is that you return to the French army and 
prevail on them to retire; and when ye shall 
be fully assured that they have done so, do you 
return hither, and we will pay attention to 
any treaty that you shall propose." 

The King of Armenia, the day after he had 
received this answer, set out for Dover, mak- 
ing two days' journey of it. From Dover he 
sailed to Calais, and thence made his way to 

He related to the King of France and his 
uncles the journey he had made to England, 
and what answer he had met with; but the 
king and his lords paid no attention to it, 
and resolved to set sail the first wind for 

So the mission of Leo, the King of Armenia, 
as peacemaker, was a failure. But in another 
way it was a success. He had had the delight- 
ful experience of Eltham hospitality. Yea, 
more. Though pleading for peace, he did not 
forget to relate to King Richard his grievance 
against the usurping Turks. The heart of 
Richard was touched, and Leo departed from 
Eltham consoled by a grant from the English 
Exchequer of one thousand pounds a year for 


* * * * 

There is a record in the Issue Rolls (Devon, 
226), dated 14 November, 1384, of 2 5s. for 

expense on the secret arrival of the King 
(Richard II.), at Westminster from his manor 
at Eltham, to dine, and inspect his jewels. 


In the same rolls (Devon, 261) we read that 
King Richard's " second crown " was brought 
from London to Eltham, and that on the date 
of 29 July, 1394, the sum of 6s. 8d. was paid 
to John Burgh, Clerk, for the safe conduct of 
the crown, and for the hire of horses and men. 

# * * 

History tells us of the troubles which fell to 
King Richard in his dealings with the nobles, 
and also with his parliament. On several 
occasions of stress of mind we find him coming 
to the Palace of Eltham in what apears to 
have been " the sulks." In 1386, the year after 
the visit of the King of Armenia, he made the 
bold announcement to his parliament at West- 
minster that he was resolved to punish the 
French for their threatened invasion of 
England, by passing over at the head of a 
suitable army, and carrying war into France. 
So he asked for supplies. But neither the 
Lords nor the Commons were in a humour to 
grant supplies, and met hie demand by a joint 
petition to dismiss his ministers and council, 
especially the Chancellor. 

This enraged the King, who even contem- 
plated doing what proved so fatal to Charles 
I. long after, namely, seizing the leaders of 
the opposition. But, finding that he was not 
likely to get support from the people, he came 
to Eltham, where, in the palace, surrounded 
by the parks and woodlands, he allowed his 
ill humours to exhaust themselves. 

When the seclusion of Eltham and its re- 
freshing air had effected this change of temper, 
he changed his mind, drove back to town, and 
dismissed the obnoxious minister as the par- 
liament had requested. 

* * 

On another occasion, some years afterwards, 
Richard had retired to Eltham, and neglected 
to attend to his kingly duties. But times were 
changed. The people were getting tired of 
his conduct. They no longer regarded him 
with that favour which in his early days had 
caused them to look upon him almost as a 



demi-god. So, one fine day, a messenger rode 
up to the draw-bridge, and thence into the 
inner courts of the Palace, bearing the rather 
unpleasant news that if the King continued to 
absent himself the Parliament intended to 
depose him. 

* * # * 

Again, in August, 1397, Richard was at Elt- 
ham with his Court, when he received the 
startling news that his uncle the Duke of 

"How old do you think I am?" 

" Your highness," replied Gloucester, " is in 
your twenty-second year." 

" Then," said the King, " I must surely be 
old enough to manage my own concerns. I 
have been longer under the control of my 
guardians than any ward in my dominions. I 
thank ye, my lords, for your past services, 
but I require them no longer." 


Gloucester was at the head of a conspiracy, the 
object of which was to seize him, together with 
the Dukes of York and Lancaster. The results 
of this intrigue were of a tragic character. 

The Duke of Gloucester was a man of de- 
termined character, and of great power and 
influence in the land. He was one of the guar- 
dians of the king during his minority, and in 
that capacity his power was very great in- 
deed. It was with Gloucester that Eichard had 
the dialogue, in 1389, eight years before, when 
he shook off the control of his guardians. Sud- 
denly, addressing his uncle, Gloucester, he 

After the death of Queen Anne, wife of the 
King, the Duke of Gloucester was anxious 
that Eichard should marry his daughter. 
The King, however, declined, making 
near relationship the excuse for his 
refusal. Gloucester was offended, became 
" sullen, morose, and destitute of all 
courtesy, returning the attentions of the nobles 
with abrupt and curt answers, so that they 
said amongst themselves, if ever Gloucester 
could stir up a war he would." 

When the danger was revealed to him at 
Eltham, Eichard determined to take action, 
and his method was to meet conspiracy with 



cunning. The earls of Warwick and Arundel 
were artfully entrapped and thrown into 
prison, but the method adopted for the arrest 
of the Duke of Gloucester was one of the most 
revolting and insidions in history. 

Although Richard had made up his mind to 
have the life of his uncle, he did not hesitate 
to pay him an apparently friendly visit at his 
castle at Fleshy in Essex. " Here Gloucester 
came forth with his wife and daughter to meet 
him, without any suspicion, and, according to 
the accounts of the rolls of Parliament, with 
a dutiful procession. The king caused him to 
be seized by the Earl Marshall, and conveyed 
to Calais. 

It is said by contemporary chronicles that 
while this was doing, Richard was conversing 
in a friendly guise with the duchess. 

Froissart says that Richard was kindly enter- 
tained, and requested Gloucester to accompany 

him to London, but this does not appear pro- 
bable, if the Parliamentary rolls are correct. 
But in any case the manner of the thing was 
treacherous and unworthy of a great mon- 

Gloucester never returned to England. 

On September 24th of the same year, 1397, a 
mandate was issued to the Earl Marshall to 
bring his prisoner, the Duke of Gloucester, 
from Calais, to the bar of the House. The 
mandate was a blind. 

Three days after, the Earl Marshall returned 
an answer, that " he could not produce the 
said Duke before the King and his Council in 
that Parliament, for that, being in his custody 
in the King's prison at Calais, he there died." 

The manner of his death is variously re- 
corded. There was a talk of apoplexy. But 
there could be but one opinion murder. 



The Eltham incidents which we are now 
about to describe took place some years before 
the tragic circumstances alluded to in the last 
chapter; but we take them here because they 
are in connection with the last visit paid to 
Eltham by Sir John Froissart. 

The Chronicler had not been to England for 
many years, and he had a great desire to see 
again the land wherein he had spent so many 
happy days during the glorious reign of King 
Edward. " True it was," he writes, " that I, 
Sir John Froissart, as at that time treasurer 
and canon of Chimay in the earldom of 
Hainault, in the diocese of Liege, had great 
affection to go and see the realm of England, 
when I had been in Abbeville and saw that a 
truce was taken between the realms of England 
and France and other countries to them con- 
joined and their adherents, to endure four years 
by land and sea. 

" Many reasons moved me to make that 
voyage: one was because in my youth I had 
been brought up in the court of the noble King 
Edward the third, and of Queen Philipa his 
wife, and among their children and other 
barons of England, that as then were alive, in 
whom 1 found all nobleness, honour, largess, 

and courtesy And I had engrossed in 

a fair book well enlumined all the matters of 
amours and moralities that in four and twenty 
years before I had made and compiled, which 
greatly quickened my desire to go into England 
to see King Richard, who was son of the noble 
Prince of Wales and of Aquitaine, for I had 
not seen this King Eichard sith he was chris- 
tened in the cathedral church at Bordeaux, at 
which time I was there and thought to have 

gone with the prince into Cralicia in Spain, and 
when we were at Dax, the prince sent me back 
into England to the queen, his mother." 
* * # * 

So, Sir John came to see the king and his 
uncles. " Also I had this fair book," he con- 
tinues, " well covered with velvet, garnished 
with clasps of silver and gilt, thereof to make 
a present to the king at my first coming into 
his presence. I had such desire to go this 
voyage, that the pain and travail grieved me 

He found things greatly changed when he 
landed at Dover. " Young children had be- 
come men and women and knew me not, nor I 

In his inimitable style Froissart describes hi 
journey through Kent; the visit to Canterbury 
where King Eichard was expected next day on 
pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas a 
Becket; how he felt "abashed" when, among 
the king's retinue, he could discover nobody 
that he knew; the ride to Leeds Castle in Kent, 
and thence to Eltham. 

At Leeds Castle he found Lord Edmund. 
Duke of York. "Then I went to him and de- 
livered my letters from the Earl of Hainault, 
his cousin, and from the Earl of Ostrevant. 
The duke knew me well and made me good 
cheer, and said : ' Sir John, hold you always 
near to us and we shall shew you love and 
courtesy; we are bound thereto for the love of 
time past, and for the love of my lady the old 
queen, my mother, in whose court ye were, we 
have good remembrance thereof!" 

During the ride from Leeds Castle to the 
Manor of Eltham, Froissart learned that im- 



portent business was to be transacted when 
they arrived at the latter place. 

" The king was sore busied there in council 
for two great and mighty matters: first was in 
determining to send eufficient messengers, as 
the Earl of Rutland, his cousin-german, and 
the earl marshall, Thomas Mowbray, after- 
wards Duke of Norfolk, now Archbishop of 
Dublin, the Bishop of Ely, the lord Louis 
Clifford, the lord Honry Beaumont, the lord 
Hugh Spencer, and many other, over sea to 

prelates and lords of England to be at the feast 
of Maudlin-tide, at a manor of the king's, called 
Eltham, seven miles from London." 

# * * # 

The king and all his brilliant company rode 
into Eltham on a Tuesday, "and on the Wed- 
nesday the lords of all coasts began to 
assemble." There was a great muster of them, 
and "on the Thursday, about the hour of 
three, they assr-rnbled together in the king's 
chamber and in the king's presence." 


Charles the French king, to treat with him 
for a marriage to be had between the king of 
England and the French king's eldest daughter, 
named Isabel, of the age of eight years." 

The second cause was to consider the " re- 
quests and process," that certain French nobles 
had made to the king, with reference to the 
lands, seignories, lordships, and baronies in 
Aquitaine, which the king had given to the 
Duke of Lancaster, but which they alleged 
should not be dissevered from the crown of 

To have counsel "of those two great matters, 
the king had sent for the most part of the 

We may stand by the moat to-day and im- 
agine that we see these great lords, with their 
squires and attendants, riding through the gate- 
way that led into the courtyard, then by way 
of the drawbridge into the inner court of the 

Of the great council, Froissart writes : " I 
was not present, nor might not be suffered: 
there were none but the lords of the Council, 
who debated the matter more than four hours." 

But he was not Blow in finding out what had 
actually taken place within those closed 

"After dinner," he goes on, "I fell in 



acquaintance with an ancient knight, whom I 
knew in king Edward's days, and he was, as 
then, of king Richard's Privy Council; he was 

called Sir Richard Stury This knight 

made me good cheer and demanded of me many 
things, and I answered him as I knew; and as 
I walked with him in a gallery before the 
king's chamber, I demanded of him questions 
of that council and desired him to tell me, if 
he might, what conclusion was taken." 

The knight replied : " Sir John, I shall shew 
you, for it is no matter to be hidden and kept 
secret ; for shortly ye shall hear them published 
al! openly." 

So Sir Richard told Sir John all about it, 
and the arguments are set forth in the chron- 
icles of the latter. They are, however, too 
lengthy for reproduction here, but the reader 
may find them pleasantly translated in Lord 
Berner's edition of Froissart. 

The Duke of Gloucester, who was " sore 
dread," was discordant in his utterance, and 
the Council broke up, and "some murmured 
one with another" . . . "When the king aw 
all the matter, he dissimuled a little, and it 
was hie intention that they should assemble 
together again in Council after dinner, to see 
if any other proper way might be taken for the 
honour of the crown of England." 

The question of Acquitaine brought discord, 
but they seemed to be in agreement as to the 
marriage of the widower king of England to 
the eight-year old Princess of France. 

"Then the king caused the Bishop of Can- 
terbury to speak of that he had given him in 
charge in the morning to speak of; that was 
upon the state of his marriage, and to send 
into France. The lords were of accord and 
named them that should go, which were the 
Archbishop of Dublin, the earl marshal, the 
lord Beaumont, the lord Hugh Spenser, the 
lord Louis Clifford, and twenty knights and 
forty squires. 

"These were sent into France to treat for 
the marriage of the French King's daughter 
Isabel, of eight years of age, and yet she was 
already promised to the Duke of Bretayne's 
eon by a treaty that was made in Tours in 
Touraine. Now, behold, how this was broken. 

for the French king and his uncles had sealed 
with the Duke of Bretayne. 

"Yet for all that the English ambassadors 
had their charge given unto them, and so they 
departed out of England and arrived at Calais, 
and there tarried a five days and then departed 
in great array, and took the way to Amiens; 
and they sent before March the herald who had 
brought them safe-conduct going and coming." 
* # # # 

So occupied was the king with business that 
it was not till Sunday that an opportunity 
came for Froissart to present to the king the 
book with the silver clasps which he had 
brought with him. 

" On the Sunday following," he writes, " all 
euoh as had been there departed, and all their 
counsellors, except the Duke of York, who 
abode still about the king; and Sir Thomas 
Percy and Sir Richard Stury shewed my 
business to the king. 

"Then the king desired to see my book that 
I had brought for him; so he saw it in his 
chamber, for I laid it there ready on his bed. 

" When the king opened it, it pleased him 
well, for it was fair illumined and written, al d 
covered with crimson velvet, with ten buttons 
of silver and gilt, and roses of gold in the 
midst, and two silver clasps gilt, richly 

" Then the king demanded of me whereof it 
treated, and I shewed him how that it treated 
of matters of love, whereof the king was very 
glad. And he looked into it, and read it in 
many places, for he could speak and read 
French very well. 

" And he gave it to a knight of his chamber, 
named Sir Richard Crendon, to bear it into his 

secret chamber." 

# * # * 

The English Ambassadors were well received 
in France, and saw the young lady Isabel. They 
returned to England with a hopeful answer, 
though many in France were against the 

Ultimately, the marriage took place, and it 
is interesting to read that the girl-wife, then 
barely ten years of age, took up her abode in 
Eltham Palace, prior to her state entry into 



London. Here she received valuable presents 
from the king, hie uncles, the Dukes of Lan- 
caster and York, and the nobles. Among these 
presents was one from the Bishop of 
Chichester,, which took the form of a silver 
image of the Virgin as big as a child of five 
years old. (Traison ei mart du Roy Richart, 
p. 112). 

The Bad life of this little lady, while Queen 
of England, is known to readers of English 
history. After the deposition and death of her 
lord, the king, she was brought to Eltham, 
where she remained for some years, until the 
new king, Henry IV., allowed her to return to 


CHAUCER ON HORSEBACK (from Ellesmere M.S. of Canterbury Tales). 
By permission of DR. FURNIVALL and Messrs. MACMILLAN & Co. 



Yet another man of letters, and one whose 
name and work will be associated with English 
literature for all time, used to visit Eltham in 
the days of Edward III. and Richard II. This 
was Geoffrey Chaucer himself, the " Father of 
English Poetry." 

As a young man, he was brilliant and accom- 
plished, and was a familiar figure at the court 
of Edward III., and, latterly, also at that of 
King Richard. He was a great friend of John 
of Gaunt, the brother of King Edward, who 
encouraged him in his literary pursuits. In- 
deed, John of Gaunt became the poet's brother- 
in-law, when the latter married Catherine 
Swinford, who was a sister of Chaucer's wife. 

Chaucer was a Court official. In his youth, 
he was one of the thirty-seven squires who were 
valets to Edward III. Later he was sent on a 
diplomatic mission, on behalf of England, to 
the Duke of Genoa, and it is supposed that h 
met the Italian poet, Petrarch, at Padua, on 
this occasion. 

In after years, when Richard II. was king, 
Chaucer seems to have been in disfavour for a 
time. He became involved in the civil and 
religious troubles of the day, and joined the 
party of John of Northampton, who was a 
supporter of Wyckliffe, in resisting the 
measures of the Court. So the poet thought it 

No. 85- 


It stood formerly upon the way-side opposite 
Southend House. 


No. 86. 


Which stood where " The Chestnuts," Court Road, 
now stands. 

The figure in foreground is "Bishop" Sharpe, the old 
schoolmaster, sketching. 

No. 87. 

No. 88. 

RAM ALLEY. (High Street). 
















. w 

d "> 















S 9 

H I 


O tfi 

td 2 

H g 

< rt 

o u 





wise to flee the country, going to Hainault, 
and afterwards to Holland. 

He returned, however, in 1386, and after three 
years of troubles and "ups and downs," we 
find him once more in royal favour, for in 1369 
he was appointed " Clerk of the Works" to 
King Richard, in succession to Roger Elmham. 

His duties in this new capacity were to 
manage the various royal palaces, including 
Westminster, Tower of London, Castle of 
Berkhametead, Eltham, Kensington, Shene, 
and others. It was a rather responsible posi- 
tion, and entailed his riding from one place 
to the other, at a time when travelling was not 
so easy nor so safe as it is now. 

It was on the occasion of his visit to Eltham 
in connection with his official duties that 
Chaucer had the unlucky experience which we 
are about to relate. 

"The Fowle Oak." 

In the " Memoranda Roll, 14 Rio. II. Hilary, 
Brevia, Roll 20," we may find this curious 
and interesting Eltham record. It is in old 
French, or a kind of legal French used at the 
time. But we have transcribed it just as it 
stands, that our young students of French, 
in Eltham, may amuse themselves by its trans- 

* * * 

1391, January 6. Writ discharging Geoffrey 
Chaucer, Clerk of the King's Works, from the 
repayment of the <20, of which he had been 
robbed near to the "Fowle Oak." 

. * 

Pur Geffray Chaucer. Richard par la grace 
de dieu Roye, <fec., as Tresorer and Barons de 
nostre Escheqer, saluz. Suppliez nous ad 
nostre ame Clere Geffray Chaucer, clere de noz 
ouereignes, qicome le tierce iour de Septembre 
darein passez, (1390), le dit Geffrey estoit 
robbez felonousement pres de le fowle ok de 
vyngt liures de nostre tresor, and de son chival 
and antres moebles, par aucuns notables larons, 
come pleinement est confessez par bouche dun 
dfs dits arons, en presence de nostre coroner 
and autres aoz officiers a Wesmonster en nostre 
Gaole illoeqes a ce qest dit, nous plese lui vyngt 
doner les dites vyngt liures, and lui descharger 
en son aconte a nostre Escheqer de les vyngt 

liures susditcs; la quele supplicacion nous 
auons de nostre grace especiel grantez and 
ottraiez. Et pur ce vous mandons, que le dit 
Goffrey facez descharger en son aconte a nostre 
dit Escheqer de les vyngt liures susdites, and 
eut estre quites enuers nous par la cause 
auantdite. Done souz nostre priue seale a 
nostre manoir de Eltham le vj iour de Januere 
Ian de nostre regne quatorzisme." 

* * 

"Richard, by the grace of God, King, &c., 
To the Treasurer and Barons of our Ex- 
chequer, greeting. Having received a petition 
on behalf of our beloved Geoffrey Chaucer. 
Clerk of our Works, inasmuch as on the third 
day of last year (1390), the said Geoffrey 
Chaucer was feloniously robbed near the Fowle 
Oak of twenty pounds of our treasure, and of 
his horse and divers goods, by certain notorious 
thieves, as is fully confessed by the mouth of 
one of the said thieves, in the presence of our 
coroner and other of our ojcers at West- 
minister, in our prison there; on this account 
we are pleased to pardon him the said twenty 
pounds, and discharge him in his account to 
our Exchequer of the aforesaid twenty pounds; 
the which petition we have of our special grace 
granted and allowed, and we therefore instruct 
you that you cause the said Geoffrey Chauc.-r 
to be discharged on his account to our said Ex- 
chequer of the aforesaid twenty pounds, and 
that he be acquitted towards us for the afore- 
said reason. Given under our privy seal 
at our Manor of Eltham, the 6th day of 
January, the fourteenth year of our reign." 

* * 

The story of the robbery of Chaucer is rather 
interesting, and as it closely concerns Eltham 
we will tell it. Mr. Furnival discovered the 
account of the incident by research among the 
" Controlment Rolls" of the 14th year of 
Richard II., which give the records of the 
trial of the robbers, and it was thereupon 
printed in the transactions of the Chaucer 
Society, some thirty years ago. 

It seems that about this time (1390) the 
neighbourhood of London was infested by 
robbers, who laid wait for travellers, and 



carried on their nefarious calling in defiance of 
the attempts made by the authorities to catch 
them. There turned out to be some seventeen 
of these desperadoes, and impudent robberies 
were perpetrated on the various highways lead- 
ing from the Metropolis. 

Chaucer had occasion to come from West- 
minster to Eltham with some ten pounds in his 
pocket to pay accounts, in pursuance of his 
duties as Clerk of the Works. When he 
reached Hatcham. which, of course, was out in 
the country in those days, at a spot known as 
the "Fowle Oak," he was set upon and robbed 
of his money, horse, and all his belongings. 

So there was nought to be done but to go back 
on foot to Westminster, to get some more 
money. Curiously enough, on his return he 
was robbed again. The affair, no doubt, caused 
considerable stir in Court circles, for it was a 
most impudent thing to rob on the king's high- 
way an officer of the king's household, and 
Chaucer was put to a great deal of incon- 
venience, as the above document shews. 

At length, however, some of the miscreants 
were captured, and one of them, Richard 
Brerelay, became approver; that is to say, he 
betrayed the others in order to save himself. 

In the quaint wording of the old record we 
find that: 

" Richard Brerelay came before Edmund 
Brudenell, the King's Coroner, and acknow- 
ledged that he was a felon of our lord the 
King, for that he, on Tuesday next before the 
feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary, in the fourteenth year of the reign of 
King Richard the Second, feloniously despoiled 
Geoffrey Chaucer of ten pounds in ready money, 
at Westminster, and that he is a common and 
notorious thief, and he appeals Thomas Talbot, 
of Ireland, otherwise called Erode; Gilbert, 
clerk of the same Thomas, and William Hunt- 
yngfield, for that they, together with the said 
approver, at Hacchesham (Hatcham) in the 
county of Surrey, on Tuesday next before the 
feast of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary, in the year aforesaid, feloniously 
despoiled the aforesaid Geoffrey Chaucer of 
nine pounds and forty-four pence, whereof each 

of them had for his share, four marks, five 
shillings, and ten pence." 

* # # 

It was not at all unusual in cases of this 
kind for one of a gang to turn "approver," 
as Richard Brerelay did on this occasion. But 
the consequences were sometimes curious, and 
illustrate the crudeness of the methods prac- 
tised by our forefathers in dealing out what 
they called justice. 

According to the system of "approvement," 
the person accused, unless he had reasonable 
and legal exceptions to make to the person of 
the "approver," was compelled to put himself 
upon his trial, either by battle or by his coun- 
try. If he fought and was vanquished he was 
regarded as guilty, and had to suffer the judg- 
ment of the law, while the "approver" was 

On the other hand, if the " approver" got the 
worst of it in the fight, he (the "approver") 
was deemed guilty, and was hanged, upon the 
confession of his own guilt, for the condition of 
pardon failed, namely, the convicting of some 
other person. 


Now, the Chaucer robbery was not the only 
confession made by Richard Brerelay. 

There was an affair at Berkweywey, in which 
Brerelay declared that one, Adam Clerk, took 
a part. This led to Brerelay's undoing. Clerk 
pleaded "not guilty," and declared that he 
was ready to defend himself by his body 
against the approver, Richard Brerelay. There 
was no escape. Brerelay had to fight. 

The duel came off at Tot-hill, on 3rd of May, 
1391. Brerelay got the worst of the encounter, 
So he was forthwith taken off to the gallows, 
and hanged. 

Clerk got off, but he did not long enjoy free- 
dom. He was up again next term for house- 
breaking, found guilty, and hanged. 

But you will notice that one, William Hunt- 
yngfield, was accused by Brerelay as one of the 
culprits in the Chaucer robberies. The fate of 
this " gentleman" cannot be so certainly 
traced. The Rolls shew that he was convicted 
of the numerous felonies for which he was 



tried, including the Westminster and Hatcham 
robberies, but the result of these convictions 
does not appear. 

Being, apparently, "in holy orders," he was 
able to put forward the plea of " benefit of the 
clergy," by way of arresting judgment. After 
this plea, we find that he was committed to the 
custody of the Marshall of the King's Bench, 
until the Court should have determined 
whether he might be allowed to clear himself 
in this manner. 

The rest is veiled in mystery. We do not 
know whether he got off. Let us hope that he 
was hanged, for he deserved it if the others 

This is about all we know of the robbery 
of Geoffrey Chaucer when on his way to Eltham 
Manor, on the third day of September, 1390. 
Although the King was graciously pleased to 
forgive him the loss of those twenty pounds, 
his position at Court was not improved by the 
incidsnt. Chaucer had many enemies there, 
and it is not surprising to find that a few years 
later he was living in retirement at Woodstock, 
in Oxfordshire. 

After all, that retirement was better for u 
than if he had remained in office to the end of 
his days, for it was then, when the poet was 
close on sixty years of age that he wrote, at 
his leisure, that immortal work, "The Canter- 
bury Tales." 

SHOOTING AT BUTTS (from Royal M.S. 19. c. viii.) 

HENRY IV. (Tomb at Canterbury). 



In an earlier chapter we referred to that last 
meeting at Eltham between Kichard II. and 
Bolingbroke, after the affair at Coventry. It 
was then that the proud noble bade farewell to 
his king, and the latter reduced his term of 
exile from ten years to six. 

The next time Bolingbroke came to Eltham 
he was himself a king, and the weak and foolish 
Richard had been deposed, and was living in 

Stirring and notable events had taken place 
during the interval between the two visits. 
Within a few months after Bolingbroke had 
gone from the country, his aged father, the 
great John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, died, 
and the exile himself succeeded to the duke- 

At this juncture King Richard did one of the 
meanest actions of his life. He declared that 
Bolingbroke, being an exile, must therefore be 
accounted an outlaw, and could not succeed to 

the Dukedom of Lancaster; so he confiscated 
all the estates to which the exiled nobleman 
was the rightful heir, and put them to his own 
use. This act of dishonesty and tyranny led 
to the king's downfall, and ultimately to his 

Richard proceeded to Ireland to complete the 
work of conquest there, leaving the government 
at home in the hands of the Duke of York, 
whom he had appointed regent. 

Taking advantage of the king's absence, 
Henry Bolingbroke returned from his exile in 
France, landing on the coast of Yorkshire with 
a handful of men. He declared that his pur- 
pose was to claim his rights to the lands and 
title of the Duke of Lancaster, of which he had 
been unjustly deprived. 

As he proceeded across England, men from 
all sides flocked to his banner. Even the Duke 
of York took sides with him, so that when the 
unfortunate Richard, on his return from 



Ireland, landed at Milford Haven, he found 
that his kingdom was gone. His army fell 
away from him, leaving him practically friend- 

In this plight, he fled, disguised, to North 

Subsequently he was invited to a conference 
with the new Duke of Lancaster, at Flint. 
When he saw the forces of the Duke, he ex- 
claimed : 

" I am betrayed. There are pennons and 
banners in the valley." 

It was, however, too late to escape, and he 
was seized and brought before Lancaster. 

" I am come before my time," said the Duke, 
" but I will shew you the reason. Your people, 
my lord, complain that for the space of twenty 
years, you have ruled them harshly. However, 
if it pleases God, I will help you to rule them 

"Fair cousin," replied the king, "since it 
pleases you, it pleases me well." 

The events that followed are well-known. 
Eichard was deposed, and the Duke of Lancas- 
ter mounted the throne as Henry IV., in the 
year 1399. But he had no real right to the 
crown, and he very soon found that his kingly 
position was not a pleasant one. 

Popular he had been when simply Henry 
Bolingbroke, the Earl of Hereford; indeed, he 
was in many respects almost an idol of the 
people; but as soon as he assumed the regal 
sway, his popularity rapidly waned. There 
were rebellions against him. His friends aban- 
doned him. Plots were formed against him, 
and barbarously punished. Altogether his reign 
was not a happy one for himself or for hie 

It was into the mouth of Henry IV. that 
Shakespeare put those fine lines upon "sleep," 
which reveal so vividly the mind of the man 
wearied by the cares of State, and anxious for 
the safety of a crown that was not rightly his. 

"How many thousands of my poorest subjects 
Are at this hour asleep? O, gentle sleep, 
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, 
That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down, 
And steep my senses in forgetfulness? 

"Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose 
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude; 
And, in the calmest and the stillest night, 
With all appliances and means to boot, 
Deny it to a king? Then, happy, lowly clown; 
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." 

Henry IV. spent a great deal of his time at 
Eltham. He kept his Christmas here on at 
least five occasions, namely, in 1400, 1404, 1406, 
1409, and 1412. 

It was on the occasion of his Christmas fes- 
tivities at Eltham in the year 1400 that he enter- 
tained at the Palace Manuel Paloaologos, the 
Emperor of Constantinople, in a most magnifi- 
cent style for two months. This monarch had 
come to England to get assistance against the 
Saracens, and so greatly did his words impress 
the King of England, that the latter vowed that 
he would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem 
before he died. One of the events of the 
festival was a grand tournament, at which the 
king's eldest daughter, Blanche, a nine-year-old 
princess, presided as the " Queen of Beauty." 

When the tidings of the deposition of King 
Eichard reached the ears of the King of France 
he was anxious to know the fate of his daugh- 
ter, Isabella, the girl-queen of Eichard. So he 
sent two ambassadors to England to make the 
necessary inquiries. It was at Eltham Palace, 
where Henry IV. was holding his council in 
1400, that he received the messengers of the 
French king, and entertained them royally. 

From the "Acts of the Privy Council" 
(Nicolas i., 115) we learn that it was at Eltham 
that the council was held on 15th March, 1400, 
from which the king wrote, respecting the 
restoration of his friend, Thomas Aruudel, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, the well-known per- 
secutor of the Lollards, who had been deprived 
of his see, and banished by Eichard II. in 
1397, at the same time as a similar punish- 
ment was inflicted upon the Duke of Gloucester 
and the Earl of Warwick by the late king. 

Arundel had been a fellow exile with Henry 
himself, but had returned to Scotland, for, after 
residing in France for a time, the Pope 
appointed him to the see of St. Andrew's, "a 
step taken at the request of Richard himself, 



who thus flattered himself that he had rendered 
a troublesome adversary harmless." 

The decisions of the Eltham Council marked 
the new attitude taken up by Henry towards 
Lollardism. It resulted in the Statute of 
Heretics, with all its formidable provisions. 

" By the provisions of this infamous Act," 
writes John Richard Green, "bishops were not 
only permitted to arrest and imprison, so long 

to spread the new Lollardism, became its first 
victim. A layman, John Balbie, was com- 
mitted to the flames in the presence of the 
Prince of Wales, for a denial of transubstautia- 
tion. The groans of the sufferer were taken for 
a recantation, and the Prince ordered the fire 
to be plucked away ; but the offer of life and of 
a pension failed to break the spirit of the 
Lollard, and he was again hurled back to his 

(Married by proxy to Henry IV., at Eltham Palace.) 

as their heresy should last, all preachers of 
heresy, all school masters infected with 
heretical teaching, all owners and writers of 
heretical books, but a refusal to abjure, or a 
relapse after abjuration, enabled them to hand 
over the heretic to the civil officers, and by 
these so ran the first legal enactment of re- 
ligious bloodshed which defiled our Statute 
Book he was to be burnt on a high place before 
the people. 

"The statute was hardly passed before Wil- 
liam Sawtre, who had quitted a Norfolk rectory 

These were some results of the Statute which 
emanated from that council at Eltham, in the 
year 1400. Surely it was a bad day's work. 
"It was probably the fierce resentment of the 
Reformers " to this intolerant Act " whicli 
gave life to the incessant revolts which 
threatened the throne of Henry IV." 

An interesting, but somewhat curious, cere- 
mony took place at Eltham Palace ou the 3rd 
April, 1402, for on that date King Henry was 
married in the Royal Chapel there, by proxy, 
to the Princess Joan, daughter of Charles II., 



the King of Navarre, and widow of John de 
Montfort, Duke of Brittany. In the absence of 
the princess, one of her esquires, a certain 
Antoine Eeizi, acted as her representative, and 
it was upon his finger that King Henry placed 
the ring, and with him exchanged the usual 
marriage vows. 

There is another local record of considerable 
interest, though of quite a different character. 
There was an ancient custom by which the men 
of the Royal Manors could travel throughout 
the kingdom, "toll-free." The privilege had 
been conceded to the men of Eltham Mande- 
ville, and West Home, as far back as the reign 
of Edward III. It is recorded of Henry IV. 
that he enacted that " the same custom should 
apply to the men of Eltham, Modyngham, and 
Woolwich, which manors were of old of the 
ancient demesne of the Crown of England." 

It would seem that King Henry IV. ran in 
danger of being murdered at Eltham Palace on 
the occasion of his keeping Christmas here in 
1404. The king was ignorant of the peril he 
was in, until the plot was revealed to him by 
a lady during the following year. The incident 
is set forth by Holinshed, and we will tran- 
scribe the old chronicler's words: 

"In the sixth year, the fridaie after saint 
Valentine's day, the earle of March his sons 
earlie in the morning were taken forth of 
Windsor Castle, and conveyed away, it was not 
known whither at the first, but such search and 
enquiry was made for them that shortlie after 
they were heard of and brought back again. 

"The smith that counterfeited the keies by 
the which they had conveyed them thence into 
the chamber where they were lodged, had first 
his hands cut off, and after, his head stricken 
from his shoulders. 

"The ladie Spenser, sister to the duke of 
York, and widow to the lord Thomas Spenser, 
executed at Bristow, being apprehended and 
committed to close prison, accused hir brother 
the duke of York, as cheefe author in stealing 
awaie the said earl of March his sonnes. 

"And further, that the said duke ment to 
have broken into the manor of Eltham the last 
Christmasse by scaling the wals in the night 

season, the king being there the same time, to 
the intent to have murthered him. 

" For the proof of hir accusation she offered 
that if there were anie knight or esquier that 
would take upon him to fight in her quarrel, if 
he were overcome, she would be content to burn 
for it. 

" One of his esquiers, named William of 
Maidstone, hearing what answer his ladie and 
mistress propounded, cast down his hood, and 
proffered in hir cause the combat. The duke 
likewise cast down his hood readie by battel to 
clear his innocence. 

"But yet the king's sonne lord Thomas of 
Lancaster arrested him and put him under safe 
guard in the Tower, till it were further known 
what order should be taken with him, and in 
the meantime were all his goods confiscate. 

" At the same time was Thomas Mowbraie, 
earl Marshall accused, as privie to the purpose 
of the duke of York, touching the withdrawal 
of the earl of March his sonnes, who confessed 
indeed that he knew of the dukes purpose, but 
yet in 110 wise gave his consent there-unto, and 
therefore besought the king to be good and 
gracious lord unto him for concealing the 
matter, and so he obtained pardon for that 

Henry the Fourth's last Christmas at Eltham 
was a sad one. He had been attacked by a 
fulsome, leprous disease, which had terribly 
disfigured his face. The sickness came on 
shortly after the execution of the Archbishop of 
York, and the people saw in it a judgment from 
heaven for so sacrilegious an act. 

It was the last Christmas of his life that he 
passed, in H12, at his favourite palace at 
Eltham. "So complete was his seclusion, 
owing both to his illness and the awful dis- 
figurement of his person, that he scarcely saw 
anyone but the queen, lying frequently for 
hours without any sign of life. After Candle- 
mas, he was so much better as to be able to 
keep his birthday; so he was carried from 
Eltham to his palace at Westminster, where he 
had summoned the Parliament." 

The old historian, Kennet, commenting upou 
this incident, writes: 



" The design of this season seems to have 
teen no other but to furnish him with money 
for his voyage to the Holy Land, which he 
intended to begin at tie rise of the spring, all 
things being ready for it. 

"But God prevented his design by a relapse 
into his former distemper! For, being worship- 
ping at St. Edward's Shrine, to take his leave, 
in order, to his journey, he was so violently 
seized with another fit of apoplexy that all the 
standers-by thought he would have died pre- 
sently; but being removed into a chamber be- 
longing to the Abbot of Westminster, and laid 
in a pallet before the fire, by the warmth of 

that and by the application of proper remedies, 
he at length recovered his senses and speech 

" After he had lain some time, he enquired 
where he was, because he perceived himself to 
be in a strange place, and was told that he was 
in the chamber of the Abbot of Westminster. 

"He then asked them whether the chamber 
had any particular name, and they said ' It was 
called Jerusalem/ whereupon he said, ' That 
then he should die there, because he was long 
since told that he would die in Jerusalem,' and 
accordingly he made suitable preparations for 
his death. " 





Several notable incidents in the life of Henry 
V., associated with Eltham, are recorded. His 
father, the late king, kept his last Christmas 
here, under the sad circumstances we have 
already alluded to, in the year 1412. 

Henry V. kept his first Christmas, as king, 
at Eltham, in 1413, and, on that occasion, a 
circumstance came to light which made it 
necessary for the king to cut his Eltham visit 
short, and hasten away to the palace at West- 
minster, and thence to Windsor. 

It was while the hall of the old palace was 
resounding with the mirth and jollity charac- 
teristic of the Christmas festivities of the time 
that the ill news was conveyed to the king of 
a plot for his destruction, said to have been 
hatched by the Lollards, in which the friend 
and associate of his youth, Lord Cobham, was 
involved, together with Sir Roger Acton. 

The tidings so alarmed the king that he 
hurried from Eltham, as we have said, and the 
Christmas merriment of 1413 came to an un- 
expected and sudden termination. 

The incident was the beginning of evente 
that culminated in a great tragedy, and, as 
their relation throws some light upon both 
Eltham and national history of the time, we 
will tell, as briefly as possible, the story in 
which the king and the famous Kentish noble, 
Lord Cobham, are the prominent characters. 

You will have read in your history books of 
the youthful escapades of Henry V., that on 
one occasion caused him to be brought befors 
the judge, who had the courage to send him 
to prison. 

One of his boon companions at this time was 
Sir John Oldcastle, more generally known as 
Lord Cobham, who associated with the young 
prince in his gay and frivolous habits of life. 

The old king, Henry IV., looked gravely upon 
his sou's reckless living, for he was anxious 
lest he might develop into a king as worthless 
and vicious as Richard II. had been. 

When, however, at his father's death, the 
prince, inherited the responsibilities of king- 



ship, he discarded his old habits and his evil 
companions, lived a life that was consistent 
with his position, and won the respect and 
love of his people. 

Lord Cobham, too, who had been so promin- 
ent as one of those who humoured the prince 
in his whims, that he was known at the time 
as the "ruffian knight," turned over a new 
leaf and began to take life seriously. 

In the last chapter we alluded to the 
Lollards, and the new law, devised at a Coun- 
cil at Eltham, for the purpose of putting 
Lollardism down, of the persecution under 
the law, and the prominent part played in 
that persecution by the Archbishop Arundel. 

Now, Lord Cobham became a very thought- 
ful and able man, and as a nobleman possessed 
much influence and power. To the surprise of 
everyone, he embraced the principles of the 
Lollards, a circumstance which alarmed the 
Church, and caused the Archbishop to carry 
on the work of persecution with all the greater 

The archbishop regarded Cobham as the head 
and great encourager of the new sect, so he 
applied to King Henry for permission to indict 
him under the hateful statute De heretico com- 
burendo, already alluded to. Although, for 
political reasons, seeing that Henry was de- 
sirous of securing the full sympathy and sup- 
port of the Church, he was not entirely averse 
to the application of rigorous measures to 
heretics, he could not readily bring his mind 
to the persecution of his old companion, Lord 

The archbishop pressed the matter, under 
the plea that the public execution of the 
Kentish nobleman would strike terror into the 
Lollards, and perhaps stamp out the new 
movement. But the king preferred to see 
Cobham liimself, and to try and influence him 
by persuasion, declaring that such gentle means 
were best calculated to convert him. The in- 
terview took place, and Henry argued with his 
friend with such knowledge of divinity that 
he had acquired at Oxford. But it was of 
little avail, and it would seem that some sever- 
ity arose between the disputants, for Cobham 

is said to have suddenly left the king, and 
withdrew to his own house at Cowling in Kent. 

The king now took up another attitude. 
Tenderness towards his friend seems to have 
left him. Determined to prevail where he- 
had failed to convince, he acceded to the re- 
quest of Archbishop Arundel. 

Then it was that proclamations were sent 
forth, directing the magistrates to apprehend 
all itinerant preachers, and action was at once 
taken against Lord Cobham for heresy. 

Upon hearing of these strong measures, Cob- 
ham hastened to the king, before whom he laid 
his confession of faith, a document which is 
still in existence, and " on looking it over," 
writes an historian, " one is at a loss, in these 
days, to discover in it what any true Catholic 
could object to." 

But Henry would not even look at this "Con- 
fession of Faith," declaring that such matters 
were for the bishops to decide upon. 

Cobham then offered, according to the spirit 
of the times, to purge himself from the charge 
of heresy, by doing battle with any adversary, 
Christian or infidel, who dared to take up hi 
challenge. But when the king asked him if 
he was prepared to submit to the decision of 
the bishops, he refused, at the same time, like 
a good Catholic, declaring himself willing to 
appeal to the Pope. 

This proposal the king declined to accept, 
and Cobham was accordingly handed over to 
the tender mercies of Archbishop Arundel, 
together with the Bishops of London, Win- 
chester, and St. David's, before whom he was 
promptly tried and condemned to be burnt 

The king, however, did not agree with these 
desperate measures, and gave the prisoner fifty 
days' respite, apparently to give him further 
time for consideration, but more probably, as 
some writers assert, to give him an opportun- 
ity of escape. At any rate, Cobham did man- 
age to escape before the fifty days had expired. 

Once at liberty he was very soon in com- 
munication with his friends and confederates, 
and realising that the Church was determined 
upon, not so much the conversion as the de- 



etruction of the reformers, it is said that the 
Lollards themselves resolved to take desperate 
measures in self-defence, and to take up arms 
in an attempt to repel force by force. 

It is even recorded of them, although there 
are many who still doubt the truth of the 
accusation, that they conceived the design of 
not only killing the bishops, but also the king 
and all his kin.- There seems to be some 
mystery about the proceedings, and many re- 
fuse to believe that Lord Cobham could have 
lent himself to such a purpose. 

It was, however, the news of this plot which 

body was spared the indignity of being 
burned, so he was buried under the gallows. 

The following entry in the "Issue Rolls," I. 
Henry V., throws some light, perhaps, upon 
the incident: 

"To Henry Botolf. In money paid to his 
own hands for four pair of fetters, to pair of 
manacles, and six pair of ' derails,' with 
locks for the same, purchased by the said 
Henry for the King's use, and sent to Thomas 
Erpyngham, steward of the King's house- 
hold, for certain traitors lately taken at 
Eltham and elsewhere, to be imprisoned. Ev 


was brought to the king at Eltham during the 
Christmas festivities of UW, and caused him 
to get away from the palace as quickly as he 


* * * * 

A great rising of the Lollards appears to have 
been organised, and some 25,000 men were ex- 
pected to gather at an appointed spot in St. 
Giles' Fields, their password being "Sir John 
Oldcastle." The authorities, however, were 
sufficiently acquainted beforehand of the 
danger to enable them to take measures of 
suppression. The result was a dismal failure 
on the part of the reformers. Cobham man- 
aged to escape, but about four score of his 
followers were captured, forty of whom were 
drawn and hanged as traitors, and then burned. 
Amongst the prisoners was Sir Eoger Acton, 
a friend of Cobham's, who was hanged, but his 

direction of the Treasurer and Chamberlain 
of the Exchequer. 16/8." 

Lord Cobham escaped into Wales, where he 
remained in concealment for some years, and 
the burning of Lollards was continued with 
increasing severity. 

In the year 1417, Henry was campaigning in 
Normandy. The Scots, therefore, thought the 
occasion was favourable for an attack upon 
England in the north. Cobham seems to have 
been acting in concert with them, for at the 
moment when the Scottish inroads began, the 
nobleman issued from his place of conceal- 
ment. But whatever hopes the Lollards may 
have had of relief by the assistance of the 
Scots, those hopes were doomed to disappoint- 
ment. Earl Douglas was defeated in the north 
and made a hasty retreat across the Cheviots. 



When Cobham heard the news of the Scot- 
tish rout, he had approached as near to London 
ae St. Alban's. There was no alternative but 
to hasten again towards Wales, in the hope of 
finding there a place of hiding. But he was 
intercepted and taken prisoner by the retainers 
of the Earl of Powis. 

"Cobham was brought before the House of 
Peers, his former indictment was read, and 
he was asked by the Duke of Bedford what he 
had to say in his defence. He had begun a 
bold and able speech in reply, but was stopped 
and desired to give a direct answer." 

He refused to plead, and astounded the 
court by declaring that it had no authority, 
so long as Richard II. was alive in Scotland; 
for, like many others, he was of opinion, that 
the person whe was still paraded in Scotland 
as the dethroned king, was genuine. 

His doom was sealed. Sir John Oldcastle,. 
Lord Cobham, was condemned, and was hanged 
as a traitor in St. Giles' Fields, and burnt ae 
a heretic, December, 1417, exactly four years 
after the tidings of the Lollard Plot were- 
brought to the king at Eltham Palace. 




In the last chapter the name of Sir Thomas 
Erpyngham was mentioned. He was the 
steward of the King's household, and was the 
person to whom the fetters and manacles were 
sent for securing certain traitors captured at 

Sir Thomas was a notable figure at the time, 
and we may very well give a brief account of 
him. He was quite an old man when Henry 
V. ascended the throne, and had served with 
distinction under previous sovereigns. 

When H^nry Bolingbroke afterwards Henry 
IV. was sent into exile, Sir Thomas Erpyng- 
ham accompanied him. He was probably pre- 
sent at Eltham upon that memorable day when 
Bolingbroke bade adieu to Kichard II., and had 
the consolation of obtaining a reduction by four 
years of his period of exile. 

On the return of Bolingbroke as Duke of 
Lancaster, Erpyngham was still in his train, 

for he was always a faithful adherent of the 
House of Lancaster. 

It was he who made Eichard II. prisoner, and 
when the fateful day arrived that Richard laid 
aside his crown, Sir Thomas Erpyngham was 
one of the seven who were commissioned to 
announce to the King his deposition. 

He served Henry IV. faithfully, and seems to 
have always been ready to do his bidding. Al- 
though there are records that go to prove that 
he was brave and fearless as a soldier, there are 
others which depict him as being exceedingly 

In the old chronicle, " La traison et mort du 
Roy Richart," we are told that Henry IV. put 
him in charge of the execution of Sir Thomas 
Blount, and that Erpyngham actually used 
taunting words to his unhappy victim, while 
" sitting disembowelled before the fire in which 
his entrails were being burned." 



It i* hard to conceive anything more horrible 
than callousness such as this, even in an age 
when human life and human suffering were 
regarded as trifling matters in the policy of 

It was Erpyngham, too, who executed Lord 
de Spencer the husband of the lady, whose 
name has already been alluded to in connection 
with an Eltham incident. 

His close association with royalty is further 
seen from the fact that he was one of the wit- 
nesses of the will of Henry IV. He is said to 

Old man though he was, it was Sir Thomas 
Erpyngham who threw his baton into the air 
as the signal for the English advance at Agin- 
court, and was afterwards in the thick of the 

He was near the king at that dramatic 
moment, just before the battle, when Sire de 
Helly and two other French knights held a 
parley with King Henry for the purpose of 
gaining time. 

De Helly had once been a prisoner in 
England, but was accused of breaking his 


have built the Church of Black Friars, at 
Norwich, and to have been buried in the 
cathedral of that city. 

But Sir Thomas Erpyngham has won a lasting 
name as one of the heroes of Agincourt. " At 
Agincourt," writes old John Lydgate, "Sire 
Thomas Erpyngham, that never did faille," 
brought a following of two knights, seventeen 
men-at-arms, and sixty archers, by an agree- 
ment with the King, some of whose jewels he 
took as security for pay. 

It is interesting to learn from Hunter's 
"Historical Tracts" that John Geney, one of 
his men-at-arms, married Lucy, daughter of 
Eobert Cheseman, of East Greenwich and 

parole, and now offered to meet in single combat 
any man who dared to reflect upon his honour. 
The King, who saw the trick, replied: 

"Sir Knight, this is no time for single 
combats. Go, tell your countrymen to prepare 
for battle, and doubt not that for the violation 
of your word you shall a second time forfeit 
your liberty, if not your life." 

"Sir," replied De Helly, insolently, with the 
view of prolonging the parley, " I will receive- 
no orders from you. Charles is our sovereign. 
Him we will obey, and for him we will fight 
against you whenever we think proper." 

" Away, then," said the King, " and take 
care that we are not ther3 before you." 



Then, stepping to the front, he cried: 
"Banners advance!" 

At this moment, old Sir Thomas Erpyngham, 
who had been standing near, watching the 
interview, flung his baton into the air, and 
cried aloud : " Now strike." 

What followed, how the English struck and 
won, is a matter of history ; but it is interesting 
to us to find that the old knight who was the 
steward of Eltham Palace took so prominent a 
part in the great struggle. 

There were many notable prisoners taken in 
this famous battle. Among them was the Duke 
of Orleans, who was found by Richard Waller, 
of Groom bridge, Kent, nearly dead, under a 
heap of slain. His brother, the Duke of Bour- 
bon, was also captured, as well as many knights 
of high degree. 

The two princes mentioned had the pleasure 
of spending a part of their time as prisoners in 
England, at Eltham, where they were lodged. 

The return of Henry V., and his victorious 
army was an occasion of great rejoicing. 

" To Caunterbury full fair he past, 
And off red at Seynt Thomas shryne; 

Fro thens sone he rod in hast, 
To Eltham h* cam in good tyme." 

Thus sang John Lydgate to commemorate the 
joyful day. At Eltham, the King and his great 
company, including his prisoners* remained for 
the night, to prepare for the triumphant entry 
into London. 

The event was one of the historical days in 
the village story. Eltham youth doubtless 
looked on and wondered. Their grandfathers 
had told them many a time of the glorious days 
of Edward III., of the great tournament after 
the victory of Crecy, of the reception of the 
captive King. But here was a victory greater 
than Crecy. Some of their own kinsfolk had 
been in the light. Here, too, were royal pris- 
oners from France, brought along in the train 
of their great and noble King. In sooth, it was 
a day to be remembered. 

On the morrow, November 23rd, St. Clement's 
Day, the procession moved on at an early hour, 

for they were due at Blackheath at ten o'clock. 
Thus the old poet continued : 

"To ye Blakheth thanne rod he, 
And spredde ye way on evry side; 

(Twenty thousand) men myght wel se 
Oure comely Kinge for to abyde. 

The kyng from Eltham sone he nam, 
Hyse presoners with hym dede brynge. 

And to ye Blake Heth ful sone he cam; 
He saw London with oughte lesynge; 

Heil Ryall London, seyde our King." 

The progress of victorious Henry from 
Eltham to London is one of the great events of 
London history, and it is proposed to represent 
the scene in the forthcoming "London 
Pageant." Those who would like to read a 
really graphic account of the event may find it 
described in the " Chronicle" of Stow, who tells 
us how the " Maior of London with the Alder- 
men and crafts to the number of 1 hundred 
riding in red, with hoodes red and white, met 
with the King on Black-heath coming from 
Eltham, and so brought him through London 
to Westminster, with all his prisoners of 

" The gates and streets of the Citie were gar- 
nished and apparrelled with precious clothes 
and Arras, containing the victories, triumphs 
and princely Acts of the Kings of England his 
progenitors, which was done to the end that the 
King might understand, what remembrance his 
people would send down to their posterity of 
these his great victories and triumphes. 

"The Conduits through the Citie ranne none 
other but good sweet wines, and that abun- 

" There were also made in the streetes many 
Towers and stages adorned richly, and upon 
the height of them sate small children, 
apparrelled in semblance of Angels, with 
sweete tuned voices singing prayses and laudes 
unto God; for the victorious King would not 
puffer any ditties to be made and sung of his 
victories, for that he would wholly have the 
praise given to God." 

In his "History of Great Britaine" (1651), 
John Speed tells us that on the occasion of 
Henry's triumphal entry into London, after 



Agincourt, "foureteene Mitred Bishops 
attended his approach unto St. Pauls, where, 
out of the Cencers the sweet Odours filled the 
Church, and the Quiei- chanted Anthems cun- 
ningly set by note; in all which the honour was 
ascribed onely unto God, the King so command- 
ing it." 

Yet another account is provided by an old 
Latin manuscript, in the Cottonian collection 
(Julius E. IV.), which is translated by Sir 

In the " Issue Rolls" (Devon) dated 4 Henry 
V., August llth, we get the following entry 
relating to Eltham : 

" To Sir John Rothende, knight, keeper of the 
King's Wardrobe. In money paid to him, 
arising from the fifteenths and tenths, namely, 
by the hands of John Feriby, receiving the 
money from a certain attorney of the Lord de 
Talbot, dwelling in Gray's Inn, at the house of 
the Treasurer of England, for the expenses of 

ENTRY OF HENRY V. INTO LONDON (from an old Print). 

Nicholas Harris Nicholas, 1827, from which we 
make one extract : 

" And when the wished for Saturday dawned, 
the citizens went forth to meet the King, as far 
as the heights of Blackheath; namely, the 
Mayor and 24 Aldermen in scarlet and the rest 
of the inferior citizens in red suits, with party- 
coloured hoods, red and white, on about twenty 
thousand horses, all of whom, according to 
their crafts, had certain finely contrived 
devices, which notably distinguished each 
craft from the other." 

The manuscript gives a detailed and graphic 
description of the whole of the day's proceed- 

the household of the Emperor while at Eltham. 
By writ, ,200." 

This great personage, Sigismuml, was King of 
the Romans, and Emperor Elect of Germany. 
His visit to Henry was in 1416. Its object was- 
to secure the aid of Henry in a great scheme 
for putting an end to the divisions in the 
Church of Borne. There were, at the time, no 
less than three Popes all declaring to have been 
lawfully elected. 

Henry decided to give Sigismund a right 
royal reception, so " he summoned all the 
knights and esquires of the realm to attend him 
in London. A fleet of 300 sail waited at Calais 
to bring over this unusual guest with all his- 


































Q Q 



retinue, amounting to 1000 horsemen; and 
officers were appointed to escort him from 
Dover to the capital, discharging all the ex- 
penses by the way." 

Although Henry prepared to receive his 
visitor with every show of friendliness and 
hospitality, he was very cautious not to en- 
danger his national rights. 

So, just as the 300 ships of Sigismund 
approached the shore at Dover, the Emperor 
was somewhat surprised to see the Duke of 
Gloucester and several noblemen ride into the 
water, with drawn swords, and asking whether, 
in coming in such state, he designed to exercise 
or claim any authority in England. 

The Emperor replied " No," and was at once 
received with honour and courtesy. 

He had, however, a second object in coming 
to England, and that was to try and bring 
about peace between England and France. 

He seems to have had a good time in England, 
for he stayed from the time of spring till the 
month of September, when he returned to 
Calais, accompanied by Henry himself. During 
his visit he concluded an alliance with England, 
and was honoured by being made a Knight of 
the Garter. 

The Emperor Sigismund, King of Rome, and 
Emperor Elect of Germany, was one of the most 
distinguished of foreign potentates who made 
Eltham Palace their residence. 




The reign of the hero of Agincourt was a 
short one. While campaigning in France he 
was stricken down by sickness, and died at 
the castle at Vincennee on the last day of 
August, 1422. His body was brought to London, 
and was buried in the Abbey Church at West- 

In the first scene of the first act of Shake- 
speare's play of " Henry VI., Part I." you 
may read of the sad funeral day at the Abbey, 
and from the touching words which the poet 
puts into the mouths of the mourners we may, 
to some extent, realise the depth of the national 
grief occasioned by the early and unexpected 
death of this heroic king. 

" Hung be the heavens with black, yield day 

to night ! 

Comets, importing change of times and states, 
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, 
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars 
That have consented unto Henry's death ! 
Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long! 
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth." 

"The King is dead. Long live the King," 
and the king that lived was a baby boy of nine 
months old, who at the time when the body of 
his father was being buried with all the pomp 
and state of a warrior, was at Kit ham Palace, 
oblivious of the greatness to which he had 
succeeded, and lovingly tended by his mother. 

If you follow the scene in the play, you will 
see how the obsequies were interrupted by 
messengers from France bringing the evil tid- 
ings of the defeat of the English forces there. 

Then did the great nobles, alarmed by the 
news, hurry away to their several vocations. 

Said Exeter, a great uncle of the young 
king : 

" Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn, 

Either to quell the Dauphin utterly, 

Or bring him in obedience to your yoke." 

To which Bedford replied : 
"I do remember't; and here take my leave, 
To go about my preparation." (Exit.) 

Gloucester declares : 



" I'll to the Tower, with all the haste I can, 
To view the artillery and munition; 
And then I will proclaim young Henry king." 


Exeter then says : 

" To Eltham will I, where the young king is, 
Being ordained his special governor; 
And for his safety there I'll best devise." 


Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of Winchester, 
another great uncle of the baby-king, is then 
made to use these words of sinister import : 
" Each hath his place and function to attend ; 
I am left out; for me no thing remains, 
But long I will not be Jack out of office; 
The king from Eltham I intend to steal, 
And sit at chiefest stern of public weal." 

During the infancy and early childhood of 
Henry VI. he was kept very much at Eltham 
Palace, and when one remembers the troubles 
and tribulations which this king endured in 
after years, we can easily believe that his 
Eltham associations were among the happiest 
of his eventful life. 

If you turn again to your Shakespeare, 
" Henry VI., Part I., Act I., scene iii.," you 
will see how the dramatist depicts a stirring 
incident which really took place just outside the 
Tower of London. This scene has a direct bear- 
ing upon the young king's residence here, and 
it was just by chance that the fight did not 
occur at Eltham instead of London. 

Although they were closely related there was 
a bitter rivalry between Humphrey, Duke of 
Gloucester, and Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of 
Winchester. The Bishop was very ambitious, 
and often acted unwisely. 

Gloucester was self-willed and headstrong, 
and harboured a violent dislike of his kins- 
man. They were both rivals in their efforts 
to exercise an influence over the young king. So 
one was always trying to check-mate the 

When Gloucester had gone abroad, on an 
expedition to Haiuault, the Bishop seized the 
opportunity to garrison the Tower of London 
with soldiers, and then committeed the 
authority to Bichard Woodville with the signifi- 

cant injunction that he was not "to admit any 
one more powerful than himself." 

The object was, of course, to keep Gloucester 
out when he should have returned from abroad, 
which event in due time took place. 

He was highly incensed at the refusal to ad- 
mit him to the Tower, for, be it remembered, 
the Tower was a Royal Palace as well as a 
fortress, and he attributed, rightly, the insult 
to the secret orders of his uncle the Bishop. 

The Duke, in a rage, told the Lord Mayor 
of London to close the City gates, and at once 
to provide him with five hundred men in order 
that he might march to Eltham and " pay his 
respects " to his nephew, the King. 

But the Bishop was too wide awake for the 
Duke. He posted men at the foot of London 
Bridge, barricaded the street, placed archers 
at all the windows on both sides. The Duke of 
Gloucester was thus prevented from coming 
out, and his visit with five hundred armed 
men to the Palace of Eltham did not take 

There does not seem to be any record of 
much in the form of pageantry at Eltham dur- 
ing the reign of Henry VI. We find that he 
kept Christmas here in 1425, and also in 1427 
On the latter occasion, when the little king 
was only about six years of age, we learn from 
the records of " Proceedings of the Privy 
Council " that certain minstrels and travelling 
players were brought in for the entertainment 
of his youthful majesty. 

In his tenth year he was taken from Eltham 
to Paris to be crowned the king of France. 
Eeturning from Paris he came to Eltham, and 
on February 20th, 1432, imediately after the 
visit to France, he proceeded on horseback, 
duly attended, to Blackheath, where he was 
met by the Lord Mayor of London, clothed 
in red velvet, the Sheriffs and Aldermen, in 
scarlet cloaks furred, and a large company 
of loyal citizens. Thence he rode to Deptford, 
where he was greeted by the London clergy 
in their robes, and the whole company pro- 
ceeded to London. 

"When the king was come to London Bridge," 
it is recorded in Fabian's Chronicle, " there 



was devised a mighty giant, standing with a 
drawn sword, and having a poetical speech 
inscribed by his side. When the king had 
passed the first gate, and was arrived at the 
draw-bridge, he found a goodly tower hung 
with silk and cloth of arras, out of which 
suddenly appeared three ladies, clad in gold 
.and silk, with coronets upon their heads, of 
which the first was dame Nature, the second 
dame Grace, and the third dame Fortune. They 
each addressed the king in verse. On each side 

accounts we find that this market was in exist- 
ence in 1602. It has long since gone out of 

From the " Proceedings of the Privy Coun- 
cil " we find that in 1445 the young 
king was putting his house in order 
at Eltham, in anticipation of the arrival of 
his bride, Margaret of Anjou. The Clerk of 
the Works was one William Cleve, who also 
was chaplain. This gentleman was responsible 
for the construction of a new hall and scullery, 

-, **&*. 




of them were ranged seven virgins; the first 
seven presented the king with the seven gifts 
of the Holy Ghost; the others with the seven 
gifts of Grace. At the conduit, near the gate 
of St. Paul's, was a celestial throne, wherein 
was placed a personification of the Trinity, 
with a multitude of angels playing and sing- 
ing upon all instruments of music." 

In our day we should rightly regard such 
a demonstration as this as very profane. 

In the year 1438, when the king was in his 
seventeenth year, we learn that he renewed 
the old charter which permitted a market to 
be held at Eltham. From the churchwardens' 

and the provision of suitable lodgings for the 
young princese. The latter arrived in due 
course and abode in Eltham Palace as bride 
prior to her state entry into London for her 

The following entry appears in the " Rolls 
of Parliament," volume v., page 175. " To pre- 
vent exactions from his subjects, part of the 
Royal ferm rents were reserved, 28. Henry 
VI., 1450, for the support of the King's house- 
hold. Eltham was assessed at .8 a year." 

One more association of Henry VI. with 
Eltham seems to have been recorded, and the 
circumstance is a pathetic one. 



As the years went on the position of Henry, 
as king, became less and less secure. He was 
weak as a ruler and incompetent to cope with 
the difficulties that beset him on all sides. The 
losses in France roused the people of England 
against the wretched government to whose 
weakness the disasters were attributed. The 
question of the Lancastrian rights to the 
throne began to be discussed, and, as the story 
of national history reveals, the great House of 
York was disputing the title by force of arms. 
The wars of the Roses had begun. 

King Henry was taken prisoner in 1460 at 
the Battle of Northampton, and it was while 
a prisoner in the hands of the Yorkists that 
his last visit to Kit ham is recorded of him. 

the unhappy king was allowed to come out to 
Eltham and amuse himself by hunting in the 
royal woods. His reflections must have been 
sad ones when he thought of the troubled 
times he had passed through since those happy 
days, forty years before, when he played in 
these familiar fields, and since that other time, 
fifteen years before, when he brought his bride 
to the Palace at Eltham, full of hope for a 
happy and prosperous reign. 

Now Margaret, his queen, is a fugitive in 
Scotland, and he allowed, on the sufferance of 
his enemies, to visit the home of his youth. 
Henry VI. must have realised to the full the 
truth of those words attributed to his grand- 

In the "Privy Council " records we read that "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." 




Edward IV. found Eltham a congenial place 
of residence, and spent much of his time here 
with his Court. Here, in the year 1469 he held 
a great tournament, at which his champion 
was Sir John Paston. 

He held his Christmas festivities at Eltham 
in 1482, and some idea of the accommodation 
of the Palace as it then existed, as well as of 
the magnitude of the entertainment, may be 
gathered from the recorded fact that two 
thousand persons were feasted daily at his 

And Edward left his mark upon the Palace, 
for what is to be seen of it to-day was erected 
by him. Not since the days when Bishop Bek 
beautified the Manor House, some two hundred 
years before, and made it into a Palace fitted 
for a king, do any important structural altera- 
tions seem to have been carried out. 

Edward was a voluptuous monarch and fond 
of regal display and pomp. It is probable that 

the accommodation of the Palace as he found 
it was not sufficient for his purposes, and that 
the magnificent hall which now remains to us 
was erected by him to supply the deficiency. 

We have already dealt with the building, in 
considerable detail, in an earlier chapter, but 
we would again call attention to the badges of 
Edward IV., the rose en soleil, carved in the 
spandrels of the hall door facing the bridge. 
In the ceiling, too, of the south bay the one 
leading towards the lawn, as it is to-day may 
be observed the falcon and fetterlock, another 
of his badges. 

Another memorial of Edward's handiwork 
is, of course, the fine old stone bridge across 
the moat. The bridge that had done duty be- 
fore was of wood, for it was a draw-bridge. But 
the necessity for draw-bridges was passing 
away in Edward's time. They were constructed 
for purposes of protection. If the enemy, or 
any other undesirable visitors, wanted to get 



within the palace, they would have found it a 
rather troublesome undertaking whea the draw- 
bridge was up. But other weapons of offence 
had now become superior to the draw-bridge, 
so the old form was discarded, and the more 
convenient and substantial bridge of stone was 
erected in its place. 

Edward did not confine his building opera- 
tions to Eltham only. Windsor and other palaces 
underwent enlargements or improvements by 
the order of this king. 

It is interesting to learn that, notwithstand- 
ing his love of pleasure, and depravity uf liv- 
ing, Edward IV. possessed a small library, 
and it is particularly interesting to EltUam to 
know that when he came here he brought 
his books with him, presumably to read. Let 
us hope he found time to do so. 

From the " Ward-robe Accounts " we find 
certain payments were made which bear out 
this statement : 


Indeed, building operation was so sufficiently 
distinguishing a feature of his domestic policy 
that it found notice in a poem written on his 
death by John Skelton, who afterwards became 
a somewhat notable poet of early Tudor times. 

The poem alluded to was the first published 
by Skelton, and was written when the poet 
was 23 years of age. It contains the follow- 
ing verse which is of local interest. Writing 
of the dead king, he says : 

" I made Nottingham a Palace Royal, 
Windsor, Eltham, and many others mo ; 

Yet at last I went from them all, 
Et mine in pulrtre dormio." 

"To Robert Boillet, for black paper and 
nails for closing and fastening of divern 
coffyus of fir, wherein the king's books were 
conveied and carried from the King's Great 
wardrobe in London unto Eltham, 8d." 

"To Richard Carter, for carriage of diver* 
parcels appertaining unto the office of Bed* 
from London unto Eltham, 15d., and to the 
King's Carman for a reward awaiting upon 
certain of the King's book put into the King's. 
Car, 8d." 

King Edward's library was not a very large 
one. It contained such books as the Bible. 



"Josephus," "Titus Livius," "La Fortresse 
de Foy," and " Froissart." Nor could reading 
have been so easy and pleasurable an exercise 
to the king of those days as it is to the 
poorest child now-a-days. For these books were 
in manuscript. 

But it is a fact to be borne in mind that 
at this very time William Caxton was thinking 
out his plans for making a printing press, and 
the period of King Edward's reign is distin- 
guished by the fact that Caxton actually 
brought his machine into operation then. 

This was not an Eltham incident, true, but 
William Caxton was a man of Kent, and there 
can be no doubt that the wonderful story of 
his invention was talked about widely enough, 
and even among the gossips of Eltham village. 


A rather notable event in connection with the 
Royal Chapel at Eltham Palace was the 
christening ceremony of Princess Bridget, the 
seventh daughter of Edward IV. 

In volume numbered 6,113 of "Additional 
Manuscripts " at the British Museum Library, 
is a detailed account of this interesting cere- 
mony. We will give a transcription of it, with 
its quaint expression and spelling, as near as 
possible, as it stands. 

" In the yere of our lorde 1480 And the xxth 
yere of the Eeigne of Kinge Edwarde the iiijth 
on Sainte Martyns even, was Borne the ladye 
Brigette, And Cristened on the morne on Sainte 
Martyns daye In the Chappell of Eltham, by 
the Busshoppe of Chichester in order As 

Furste C (100) Torches borne by Knightes, 
Esquiers and other honneste Parsonnes. 

The Lorde Matreuers, Beringe the Basen, 
Having A Towell aboute his necke. 

Therle (The earl) of Northumberlande bear- 
ing A Taper not light. 

Therle of Lincolne the Salte. 

The Canapee borne by iiij Knightes and A 

My lady Matrauers did bere A Eyche Crysom 
Pinned Ouer her lefte breste. 

The Countesse of Rychemond did bere the 

My lorde Marques Dorsette Assisted her. 

My lady the Kinges Mother, and my lady 
Elizabethe, were godmothers at the Fonte. 

The Busshoppe of Winchester Godfather. 

And in the Tyme of the christeninge, the 
officers of Armes caste on their cotes. 

And then were light all the fore sayde 

Presente, theise noble men euseuenge. 

The Duke of Yorke. 

The Lorde Hastings, the Kinges chamberlayn. 

The lorde Stanley, steward of the Kinges 

The lorde Dacres, the quenes chamberleiu, and 
many other astates. 

And when the sayde Princesse was christened 
A Squier helde the Basens to the gossyppes, 
and even by the Font my lady Matravers 
was godmother to the conformacion. 

And from thens she was borne before the 
high aulter, And that Solempnitee doon she 
was Borne eftesongs into her Parclosse, 
accompenyed with the Astates Aforesayde. 

And the lorde of Sainte Joanes brought 
thither a spice plate. 

And at the sayde Parclose the godfather and 
the godmother gaue greate gyftes to the 
sayde princesse. 

Whiche gyftes were borne by Knightes and 
estjuiers before the sayde Priiicesse, turning 
to the quenes chamber Againe, well Accom- 
panyed As yt Apperteynethe, and after the 
custume of this Realme. Deo gr'as." 

It will be noticed that the spelling in this 
description is very free, and independent of all 
rules and regulations. In those days men 
spelled as they thought they would, and pro- 
bably they did so phonetically or according 
to their pronunciation of the word. 

The " crysom " which my lady Maltravers 
wore was a white cloth which had been anointed 
with " chrism," and chrism was the oil con- 
secrated by the bishop, and used in the Roman 
and Greek Churches in the administration of 
baptism, confirmation, and extreme unction. 
The " crysom " thus anointed was put upon 
the child by the priest at the time of baptism, 
and it was preserved as a memorial or emblem 
of innocence. 



The "gossyppes " to whom the squire held and became a nun at the Priory of Dartford, 

the basin were the sponsors, or godfathers and 

"They had mothers as we had; and those 
mothers had gossyps (if their children were 
christened) as we are." Ben Jonson : Staple 
of Netcs. 

where she " spent her life in holy contempla- 
tion till the day of her death." She is said 
to have died in the year 1517, when she would 
have been 37 years of age, and she was buried 
within the Priory. 

Princess Katherine, the sixth daughter of 


The " Parclosse " into which the royal infant 
was carried was probably a kind of anteroom. 

The lady Elizabeth who acted as a sponsor 
was the eldest sister of the baby, and subse- 
quently married Henry of Eichmond, who had 
become Henry VII., by which act the families 
of York and Lancaster (the white and red 
rose) were united. 

The little Princess Bridget does not seem 
to have been physically strong, and at an 
arly age she was dedicated to a religious life. 

Edward IV., was also baptised in the Chapel of 
Eltham Palace in the year 1480. This royal 
lady had a rather chequered career. She was 
first intended for marriage to a Spanish Prince, 
then, afterwards, for a son of the King of Scot- 
land, but ultimately married, at the age of 
17, the Earl of Devon. After a life of much 
trouble and sorrow she died in 1527, and was 
buried at Tiverton in Devon. In her will she 
styled herself "Daughter, Suster, and Aunte 
of Kings." 



We have said that in all probability the 
clerks who wrote the above extracts spelled 
the words according to their pronunciation. 
You will observe in the account of the royal 
christening that the word " bishop " is written 
"busshoppe." You will also notice that the 
lawyer who wrote out the will of Princess 
Katherine spelled the word "sister" as 
"suster." Now, ajthough a prelate of to-day 
might, perhaps, feel somewhat shocked if you 
addressed him as " my lord Busshoppe," it 

would seem that that was the courtly way of 
addressing a bishop in the days of Edward IV. 

According to the examples we have quoted, 
the syllables " bis " and " sis " were written as 
if they were pronounced "bus" and "sus." 
The words " blister " and " twister," in all 
probability, were sounded almost as "bluster " 
and " twuster." It is interesting to note that 
many such words are pronounced by west 
countrymen to-day pretty much as they were 
pronounced in Edward IV's. time. 



There does not seem to be any record of 
Edward V. or Richard III. being directly 
associated with Eltham during their short 
reigns. Edward knew Eltham as the pleasant 
resort in Kent where he spent so much of his 
early childhood with his brothers and sisters; 
and Richard, when Duke of Gloucester, no 
doubt often visited the Palace when his brother, 
Edward IV., held his splendid Courts there. 
But during the two years, or thereabouts, which 
included the reigns of both these kings, there 
does not seem to have been any royal visit. 

After the Battle of Bosworth, when Richard 
was slaiu, Henry of Richmond was made king; 
and shortly afterwards he married Elizabeth, 
daughter of Edward IV., a princess well-known 
to Eltham, and the claims of the rival families 
of York and Lancaster to the throne of England 
were satisfied. 

Henry VII. and his Queen spent much of 
their time at the Palace of Eltham. It is 
recorded that the king commonly dined in the 
great hall, and his officers kept their tables in 
it. He seems also to have continued the build- 
ing improvements that Edward IV. had begun, 
not many years before, for Lambarde, writing 
a short time afterwards, says, "It is not yet 
out of memorie that the king set up the fair 
front over the moat here." 

The following details concerning Henry 
VII.'s building operations, at Eltham, which 
are to be found in the Egerton manuscripts, 
2,358, folio 50, are interesting: 

"Expended at Eltham for shifting the 
oratory of the King, repairs of the bultyng- 
house, storehouse, bakery, lodges, lower court, 
near the east part of the bridge, and making a 

certain new bridge, pons hauriabilis, and re- 
pairing a room within the Manor, from March 
to November, 15 and 16 Henry VII., 1500, 33 
weeks and a day. 

" John Brown for four loads of sand used in 
repairing the foundations of the said bridge 
there new made, price at Wellowe, is. 4d. 

"William Blake and John Brown for 8,000 
plain tyles for repairing the roofs of the lodges 
in the lower court near the bridge on the east 
and north parts, price per thousand at Eltham 
5s.; and for half a hundred roof tyles for repair- 
ing root's, 2s. 6d. 

" John Tanner for half a hundred burnt lime, 
price 2s. 6d. at Greenwich. 

"John Brown for four load of sand, used on 
gravelling the house in which the King dis- 
tributed his alms, price at 4d., 16d. 

"Barnard Flower, plumber, for repairing the 
windows in the King and Queen's lodging, for 
70 feet of glass called Normandy glass, at 3d. a 
foot; 10 feet of glass, called Renish glass, at 
2|d. a foot; 1 foot of Normandy glass, painted 
with hawthorns, 6d.; 1 round disc of glass, 
painted with red rose, and a similar disc, 
painted with a portcullis, price 12d., used in 
lepairing the windows in the lodgings of the 
King, Queen, and Prince. 

"John Norton for making a certain bridge 
called a ' fawce bridge,' &c., &c. 
" Total expended in 33 weeks, 4A 6s. 6d." 
Just one or two comments upon this account. 
The buildings mentioned at the beginning of 
the entry, with the exception of the oratory, 
would apparently have stood on the left 
hand side of the court yard, as you approach 
the bridge. 



The Bultynghouse. This was probably the 
storehouse for meal or corn for the horses. 

The pans hauriabilis. The name seems to 
suggest a bridge leading to some place for the 
drawing of water. In all probability it existed 
on the south side, where the modern footbridge 
across the moat has been erected by Mr. 
Bloxam. The foundations of an older bridge 
are plainly discernible here. 

The making of "tyles" was apparently an 

ments referred to by Lambarde, Mr. Buckler, 
writing in 1828, says, "Henry the Seventh, who 
resided much in Eltham, and, as appears by a 
record in the Office of Arms, most commonly 
dined in the great hall, re-built the front of 
the Palace next the moat, that is, the west, or 
principal front, which extended full three 
hundred and eighty feet. 

"Eltham Palace," he continues, "exhibited 


Eltham industry in the year 1500, and William 
Blake and John Brown were the proprietors. 

The "red rose" painted on the glass was, of 
course, the "Eed Rose" of Lancaster, to which 
family the King belonged. 

The " portcullis " was the badge of John of 
Gaunt, the founder of the House of Lancaster. 

The "fawce" bridge alluded to was probably 
the pous hauriabilis mentioned above. 

The four load of sand which John Brown 
supplied seems to have been for sanding the 
floor of the house, an old custom, which is still 
practised in remote districts, where carpets or 
floor-cloths are not used. 

Commenting upon the structural improve- 

the same partial, thought not inconsiderable, 
re-edification which very few mansions of 
remote antiquity escaped. The spirit of im- 
provement often, and not infrequently the love 
of variety, influenced these changes, and the 
taste with which they were sometimes made, 
may, without presumption, be questioned, 
especially where we observe the mutilation of 
an elegant feature for the accommodation of 
one destiute of merit as a specimen of archi- 
tecture, and of propriety, on the score of con- 

" How far Eltham Palace warranted these 
observations must remain doubtful; but, refer- 
ring to the alterations which in former times 



were made in ancient buildings, I may remark 
that the hall more commonly retained its 
original character than any other part of the 
mansion. This might have been on account of 
its dimensions, which were always ample, and 
where no improvement in convenience could be 
made, none was desired, if attainable, in the 
architecture. Certainly, no improvement in 
this respect would have followed an alteration 
of the hall at Eltham. 

" Henry the Seventh could not have produced 
in its stead a building with excellencies of so 
high an order as were commanded by Edward 
-the Fourth. If talent had not greatly 
diminished, the style of architecture on which 
it was exercised claimed merit, rather for the 
profusion and delicacy of its ornaments, than 
for the boldness and beauty of its proportions. 

" In the order and space of the other rooms, 
the later ages are entitled to the palm of 
superiority. Henry the Seventh improved 

Eltham Palace retaining, however, 

the original great banqueting hall. 

" Walls of brick were often, in the period of 
which we are now speaking, substituted for 
those of stone. The same material forms the 
walls of Eltham hall, under a case of stone. 
But brick alone was commonly used, and in- 
grafted on masonry, as in this example. Its 
peculiar ornaments, in addition to carved work, 
were distinguished by black bricks, arranged in 
various patterns over every blank surface, and 
specimens of these decorations remain on the 
west and south walls of Eltham Palace (1828). 
King Henry the Seventh's building, which the 
record calls "handsome," doubtless partook of 
the character which distinguished the best 
designs of that and the succeeding reign, so 
celebrated for their generous encouragement of 
architecture. The same spirit which guided 
Edward the Fourth in the building of the 
Palace seems to have descended without diminu- 
tion to his royal successor." 

Thus wrote Mr. Buckler, in 1828, and it is dis- 
appointing that none of the " handsome" work 
of Henry VII. can now be seen. That of King 
Edward IV. had out-lived it. If you want to 
see it in imagination you might take up your 
position in the "Bridle-lane," and view the 

ruins from that point. You will easily see that 
the hall, as it now stands, was only a portion of 
a great pile of buildings, "the fair front of 
which," as mentioned by Lambarde, would have 
been facing the direction in which you stand. 

One of the most notable events in Eltham 
history occurred in the reign of Henry VII. 
This was the visit paid to the Palace in the 
year 1500, by Erasmus, the great scholar. This 
famous man was a native of Rotterdam, and 
became one of the most distinguished scholars 
o.* his day. The trials and troubles of his 
parents are set forth in that wonderful story, 
"The Cloister and the Hearth," by Charles 
Reade. Erasmus made the acquaintance, and 
ultimately became the close friend of Sir 
Thomas More, a great and scholarly English- 
man, of whom we shall have more to say later 
on, in the course of Eltham history. 

In one of his letters, Erasmus tells how when he 
was staying at Greenwich, with Lord Mount joy, 
that More took him for a walk from Green- 
wich to Eltham, to see the house which the King 
had there. It would be interesting to know 
which road these two wonderful men took when 
they made this journey. In al! probability it 
was by way of Kidbrook-lane. 

When they reached the Palace, they found 
that the royal children were there, and among 
them the little prince, Henry, who was to be- 
come king in after years, as Henry VIII. He 
seems to have been a very beautiful and also 
intelligent child, and to have impressed the 
mind of the distinguished visitor. Erasmus, in 
the letter alluded to, writes: 

"When we came to the great hall, there were 
assembled together, not only those of the Royal 
Household, but Mountjoy's train also. In the 
midst stood Henry, then only nine years old, 
but of right royal bearing, foreshewing a 
nobility of mind, in addition to a person of 
singular beauty. 

" On his right hand was the Lady Margaret, 
then about eleven years old, afterwards married 
to James, King of the Scots; the Lady Mary, 
four years old, was playing at his left; and near 
at hand was the little Edmund, in the nurse's 
arms. More, with his companion, Arnold, 



saluted the youthful Henry, and proffered him 
something written, I know not what. 

" I, not expecting anything of the kind, had 
nothing ready at the time to present to the 
Prince, but promised that I would take some 
other opportunity of shewing my respect to 
him. Meanwhile, I was a good deal vexed with 
More, for not having forewarned me, and the 

In the year 1485 we find that King Henry 
VII. entertained the Scottish Ambassadors at 
the Palace, and in order that they might Jake 
full advantage of the opportunity which the 
Eltham woods afforded for the pleasures of the- 
chase, we are told that by royal command these 
visitors from the north were supplied with bows, 
and arrows. 


more so, as the stripling, during dinner, sent 
me a short epistle as a kind of challenge to 
write something to him." 

It is a satisfaction to learn that Erasmus 
carried out his promise, for when he reached 
home, he says, " I invoked the muses from 
whom I had long been divorced, and composed 
an elegant ode in Hexameters and lambies, in 
praise of England, of Henry VII., and of the 
Princes Arthur and Henry." 

It was to Henry that he dedicated his ode. 

We may hope that they had a good time, for, 
according to the accounts, the amount credited 
to Sir Kichard Gyldeford for the bread and 
wine they consumed was 6 4s. 7d. 

A rather tragic circumstance occurred in 
1508, the year before King Henry died. Giles, 
the famous Lord Daubeny, was riding after the 
King from Eltham to Greenwich. As they were 
passing Blackheath, he was taken ill, and died 
within a few days, May, 1508. It was on this 
spot that, eleven years before, in 1497, Lord 



Daubeney won his famous victory over the 
Cornish insurgents. The coincidence caused, 
no doubt, much talk, and the wagging of wise 

There is one other matter which closely 
associates the name of Henry VII. with Eltham. 
As history records, this king was very exacting 
in the matter of taxation. It is possible that 

he found the payment of the "fifteenths" bore 
very heavily upon the Eltham folk, for we 
find that in 1492, "King Henry VII. gave 
thirty-eight acres of land at Eltham (the fifteen- 
penny lands) to the poor inhabitants of Eltham 
towards the payment of their fifteenths, in con- 
sideration of so great a portion of the land in 
the parish belonging to the Crown, and not 
being assessed to the subsidies." 


HENRY VIII. (Holbein Trin. Coll., Camb). 



As we have said already, Henry VIII. spent 
much of his childhood at Eltham Palace, and 
when King he came frequently to reside here 
in the early part of his reign. 

In the year 1514 there occurred an interest- 
ing incident at the Palace recalling the 
famous battle of "Flodden Field," which took 
place the year before, when the king was in 
France, with a large army, campaigning. The 
King of Scotland, taking advantage of this 
absence, marched into England at the head of a 
great army, and encountered the English at 
"Flodden" with such disastrous results that 
the Scots lost 10,000 men, including King James 
and the flower of his nobility. 

An English knight who distinguished himself 
in that great fight was Sir Edward Stanley. 
He had command of the English archers which 

did such dire damage to the Scottish hosts on 
that fatal day. 

Following the banner of Stanley, which bore 
the device of an eagle, his followers drove the 
Scots over the hill, or mount, and so it was 
that, at Eltham, in the year 1514, King Henry 
commemorated the event, and did honour to 
Edward Stanley, by making him Baron 

The Christmas spent at Eltham in 1515 seems 
to have been in some respects a memorable one. 
It was on Christmas Eve, in the Palace Chapel, 
that Cardinal Wolaey, who had risen to great 
eminence, took the oaths of Lord Chancellor, 
and was created to that office, in succession to 
Archbishop Warham, who delivered the Great 
Seal on the 22nd of December, only two days 

Wolsey now figures in Eltham history, for he 

No, 101. 

(Christmas 1908). 

No. 102. 


No. 103, 



No. 104. 

(August. 1909) 

No. 105. 

In the field beyond the last travelling Theatre. (1909), 

No, 106. 

Remains of old Inn, on the left. (1909). 



frequently attended here at the Court, and the 
quaint old wooden buildings which you see 
still in existence on your right hand as you 
approach the bridge are still known as the 
"Chancellor's Lodgings," as they were called 
in the old plan of the Court Yard, drawn up in 
1590, and preserved at the Record Office. 

On the twelfth night after the " solemn 
Christmas " kept on this occasion the King 
and courtiers seem to have had a right jovial 
time in the enjoyment of a grand masque and 
banquet in the great hall. There was, in the 
first place, a performance by the choir boys of 
the Eoyal Chapel of the comedy of "Troilus 
and Pandarus," which has been tersely 
described by the late Mr. Alexander Milne, 
from " Letters and Papers, Foreign and 

" Troilus was richly apparelled," writes Mr. 
Milne, "and Cressida appeared as a widow, in 
black sarcenet, while Diomed and the Greeks 
swaggered as men of war. The barber's charge 
for cutting the hair and washing the heads of 
these young persons previous to the perform- 
ance there were fifteen of them was 4d., 
which does not seem extravagant. 

" Afterwards ensued a mask, enacted by the 
ladies and lords of the Court. A goodly castle 
had been erected in the hall, in which were 
ladies and knights, gorgeously apparelled. The 
castle was vigorously assailed by the other 
knights, but the attackers were beaten back, 
many a good stripe having been given, and then 
the knights and ladies came forth from the 
castle, and a stately dance ensued, the climax 
of all being a banquet of 200 dishes, with great 
plenty for everyone." 

A chapter of the Garter was held at Eltham 
Palace in 1516, to supply the vacancy caused 
by the death of Julian de Medici, surnamed 
"The Magnificent," brother of Pope Leo X., 
and " Lieutenant-General of the Armies of the 
Church," who had died in the preceding month 
of March, before installation. 


"In his sports, pageants, and general habits 
of life, there was a magnificence not unmingled 
with a sense of the poetical and the picturesque, 

which helped to endear the young King Henry 
to the people of England. We can well under- 
stand," writes the historian. Knight, " with 
what pleasure the tales must have been told 
and listened to of Henry's coming into London 
in the habit of a yeoman of the guard, to 
behold the festivities of Midsummer Eve, or of 
his excursions into the country on May-day 

Oe of the most picturesque of chroniclers, 
Hall, thus describes an incident of this kind, 
which stands in strange and refreshing con- 
trast to the scenes in the later years of the same 
king's reign: 

"The king and queen, accompanied with 
many lords and ladies, rode to the high ground 
of Shooter's Hill to take the open air, and as 
they passed by the way they espied a company 
of tall yeomen, clothed in green, with green 
hoods, and bows and arrows, to the number 
of two hundred. 

"Then one of them, which called himself 
Robin Hood, came to the King, desiring him to 
see his men shoot, and the King was content. 

"Then he whistled, and all the two hundred 
archers shot and loosed at once; and then he 
whistled again, and they likewise shot again; 
their arrows whistled by the craft of the head, 
so that the noise was strange and great, and 
much pleased the king, the queen, and all the 

" All these archers were of the king's guard, 
and had thus apparelled themselves to make 
solace to the King. 

"Then Robin Hood desired the King and 
Queen to come into the green-wood, and to see 
how the ontlaws live. 

" The King demanded of the Queen and her 
ladies if they durst adventure to go into the 
woods with so many outlaws. Then the Queen 
said, if it please him, she was content. 

"Then the horns blew till they came to the 
wood under Shooter's Hill, and there was an 
arbour made with boughs, with a hall, and a 
great chamber, and an inner chamber, very 
well made, and covered with flowers and sweet 
herbs, which the King much praised. 

" Then said Robin Hood : ' Sir, outlaws' 



breakfast is venison, and therefore you must 
be content with such fare as we use.' 

"Then the King departed and hie company, 
and Robin Hood and his men them conducted. 

"And as they were returning there met with 
them two ladies in a rich chariot, drawn with 
five horses, and every horse had his name on 
his head, and on every horse sat a lady, with 
her name written. 

" On the first courser, called Camde, sat 
Humiditie, or Humide; on the second courser, 

epidemic raging in London. This was hence- 
forth called the "still Christmas." 

It would seem, also, from an entry in an 
account book of the Clerk of the Works, at 
Eltham, 27 Henry VIII., that subsequent visits 
were made by the King and Queen. 

The accounts refer to certain repairs made in 
"The Dewke of Norffoke's chamber, the lorde of 
Wyltesher's chamber, and Mr. Norris's cham- 
ber." They run thus; 

" New furnishing of workehouses for ye Mrs. 


called Maneon, rode Lady Vert; on the third, 
called Pheaton.sate Lady Vegetave ; on the fourth, 
called Eimphom, sate Lady Pleasance; on the 
fifth, called Lamfran, sate Sweet Odour, and in 
the chair sat the Lady May, accompanied with 
Lady Flora, richly apparelled ; and they saluted 
the King with divers goodly songs, and so 
brought him to Greenwich." 

Greenwich Palace had by this time become 
the favourite residence of the King, but from 
time to time he visited Eltham. We find that 
he kept Christmas very quietly here in 1525, 
with a small company, on account of an 

Cooke of the Hall-place to caste ther Jelly's 
and fretts as gengbred and leshe &c." 

"New makyng of tabulls Tressells for the 
Kyngs and for the quenes view gyffyghts to 
stand upon and in framyng of a Eaylle made 
by the Kyng's com'andment for to stand rounde 
a bout the hall and all so in the bordyng of 
the doures and skrenes and in the gyilftyng and 
bordyng of a low skaffolde upon the tabull for 
men to stan upon to see the Bankyt upon xiith 
daye at nyght." 

From "Letters and Papers, Foreign and 
Domestic," we learn that Henry was at Eltham 



in 1532, and that he also visited the palace with 
his Queen, Anne Boleyn, in 1534. On this 
occasion they came to see their daughter, Prin- 
cesa Elizabeth, who was then a baby of one 
year's growth, but who was, at the time, 
declared to be "as goodly a child as hath ever 

been seen," and that the King thought much of 

The King and Queen continued to pay visits 
to Eltham of an intermittent character, but 
by this time they had discarded the Palace as a 
permanent abode, and stayed chiefly at Green- 


HENRY VIII. AND HIS COUNCIL (Hall's Chronicle 1548). 



In the year 1525, not long after the "Still 
Christmas " alluded to in the last chapter, 
Cardinal Wolsey, the King's Chancellor, being 
then in residence here, drew up the "Statutes 
of Eltham." The title of this document is 
rather high sounding, and suggests some matter 
of national importance. In this respect it is 
misleading, for it was nothing more than a code 
of rules designed to bring about a better man- 
agement of the royal household. 

Nevertheless, it is both interesting and in- 
structive. Looked at from the point of view of 
the twentieth century, we may regard some of 
its clauses as curious and even amusing. But 
the twentieth century, we may regard some of 
value, for they reveal the home life of the 
monarch, and, it is said, even contain some 
precedents which are recognised at the present 
day in the royal household. Moreover, they 

give us an idea of the habits of life of the time. 
Beading between the lines, we can certainly 
form a pretty accurate mental picture of palace 
life at Eltham in the days of Henry VIII. 

The necessity of including in the "Statutes" 
such orders as the following is rather sugges- 

"His Highness's attendants are not to steal 
any locks or keys, tables, forms, cupboards, or 
other furniture, out of the noblemen's or gentle- 
men's houses where he goes to visit." 

Here is another: 

" No herald, minstrel, falconer, or other, shall 
bring to the Court any boy or rascal." 

It must have been a gad state of affairs which 
made the following necessary: 

" Master cooks shall employ such scullions as 



shall not go about naked, nor lie all night 
upon the ground before the kitchen fire." 

Artificial light was not so much in vogue in 
those days as it is now. So they made the 
most of the daylight. 

"Dinner to be at ten, supper at four." 

"The proper officers are, between six and 
seven o'clock every morning, to make the fire 
in, and straw his Majesty's Privy Chamber." 

Then as to food: 

" Rhenish and Malmsey wines are directed 
and none other." 

"Injunction to the brewer not to put any 
hops or brimstone into the ale." 

There does not .seem to have been any stint 
in the matter of food. 

"A Duke was allowed in the morning one 
chett loaf, one manchet, and one gallon of ale; 
in the afternoon, one manchet, and one gallon 
of ale; and after supper, one chett loaf, one 
manchet, one gallon of ale, and one pitcher of 

"The Queen's maids of honour were allowed 
a chett loaf, a manchet, a gallon of ale, and a 
chine of beef for breakfast." 

By way of explanation, we may refer to 
Holinshed, the historian who lived in the days 
of Queen Elizabeth, for a description of a 
" manchet." He writes : 

" Of bread made of wheat we have sundrie 
sorts dailie brought to the table, whereof the 
first and most excellent is the mainchet, which 
we commonlie call white bread." 

It would seem that manchet bread was not 
unlike a modern bun in shape, while a manchet 
loaf something resembled a French roll, rising 
in the middle. The ohett-loaf was probably the 
latter, and the person who sold manchets was 
often honoured by being nick-named "Johnnie 

We will now give some extracts from the 
"Statutes of Eltham," dealing with the 
"Kinge's Privye Chamber," reproducing the 
quaint wording and spelling of the original 


" In eoe muche as in the pure and cleane 
keepinge of the Kinge's Privye Chamber, with 
the goode order thereof, consisteth a greate 
parte of the Kinge's qnyett, reste, comfort, 
and preservation of his healthe; the same 
above all other thinges is principallye and 
moste heighlie to bee regarded. And consid- 
eringe that righte meane persones, as well for 
thaire more commodity, doe retyre and with- 
drawe themselves aparte, as for the whole- 
somenesse of their Chambers, doe forbears to 
have any greate or frequent resorte into the 

" Muche more it is convenyent, that the 
Kinge's Highnesse have his Privye Chamber 
and inwrarde lodgeinges preserved secrete, to 
the pleasure of his Grace, without repayre of 
any great multitude unto it. 

" It is therefore ordayned that no person of 
what state, degree, or oonditione soever he be, 
from henceforthe attempte, or be in anywise 
suffered or admitted to come or repayre into 
the Kinge'e Privye Chamber, other than such 
as his Grace shall from tyme to tyme call for 
or commande, except onlye the miuysters now 
deputed, or in the lieu of them hereafter to be 
deputed for attendaunce in the same, viz.: 
Marques of Exeter, the Kinge's kinseman, 
and sixe gentlemen, two gentlemen ushers, 
four groomes, the Kinge's harbor, and one 
page, beinge in all fifteen persones, whome 
the Kinge's Grace, for theire goode 
behavioure and quailities hath elected for that 
purpose, and whose names hereafter doe 
follow, viz.: Sir Wyllyam Tyler, Sir Thomas 
Cheyney, Sir Anthonie Browne, Sir Jo. 
Russell, Mr. Norrye, and Mr. Carye, to be 
the saide six gentlemen wayters; Roger Rad- 
cliffe, and Anthonie Knevett, Gentlemen 
Ushers; Wyllyam Breereton, Walter Walshe, 
John Carye, Hizean Breereton, to be the 
groomes; Permye to be the barbor, and 
younge \Veston to be the Kinge's Page." 

Then follows an interesting clause setting 
forth clearly how these gentlemen were to de- 
port themselves- 

"The Kinge's mynde is, the saide six 




gentlemen with the ushers and groomes, 
harbor and page, shall diligentlye attend upon 
hie person in the saide Privye Chamber, in 
doing humble, revel-end, seecrett, and comelye 
service, about all such things as his pleasure 
shall be to depute and put them to doe, not 
pressing his Grace nor advawncinge them- 
selves, either in further service then his Grace 
wyll or shall assigne them unto, or inter- 
meddle with suites, causes, or matters, what- 
soever they be. Of which number of sixe 
Gents, divers be well languaged, expert in 
outward partes, and meet and able to be sent 
on famyliar messages to outwarde Princes 
when the cause shall requier." 

The grocms had to be up between six and 
seven in the morning, and with their own hands 
no deputing the duties to others being 
allowed sweep up and clean the King's room. 

" .... purgeinge and makinge clean the 
same of all manner of filthinesse, in such 
manner and wyse as the Kinge's Heighnesse 
at his uprisinge and cominge thereunto, shall 
find the saide Chamber pure, cleane, hole- 
some, and neate, withoute anye ddspleasant 
ayre or thinge, as the health, commoditye 
and pleasure of his moste noble person doth 


It appears from the following clause that the 
dressing of the King was a most important 
function and needed the services of the fifteen 
gentlemen that have been enumerated: 

"It is alsoe ordained, that the six Gent. 
Wayters by seaven of the clock or sooner, os 
the K. the nighte before determine to arise in 
the moruinge, shall be in the sayde Chamber 
there diligentlye attendinge uppon his 
Heigh. Coming forthe, beinge readye and 
prompte to apparell his H. puttinge on such 
garments, in reverende, discreete, and sober 
manner, as shall be his H. pleasure to weare, 
and that none of the sayde groomes or ushers 
doe approache or presume, unlesse they bee 
otherwise by his H. commanded or admitted 
to laye hande uppon his royall person, or 
intermeddle with apparrylinge or dressing the 
same, but onlye the said 6 Gent. Ushers, 
unlesse it be to warme cloathee. or brinire to 

the sayde Gents such things as shall apper- 
tayne to the apparrellinge and dressdnge of 
the Kinge's sayed person. 

" It is also ordered. That the Kinge's 
doublet, hose, shoes, or anye other garments, 
whiche his pleasure shall be to weare from 
daye to daye (the gowne onlye excepted) shall 
be honestlye and cleanlye broughte by the 
yeomen of the wardrobe of the robes, or in his 
absence by some other of the same office, to 
the Kinge's Privye Chamber dore, withoute 
enteringe into the same, where one of the 
Groomes shall receive the sayede garments 
and apparrell, bringinge and deliveringe the 
same to one of the sayed 6 gentlemen, to be 
ministered to the Kinge's person, ae shall 
stand with his pleasure." 

It was ordained that these fifteen favoured 
people should be loving together, and of good 
unity and accord, "keepinge seacreate all such 
things as shall bee doen or sayed in the Kinge's 
Chamber." If the King should be absent, it 
was not to be a matter of "when the cat is 
away the mice may play." But 

" .... they shall not onlye give theire 
contynuall and diligente attendaunce in the 
sayde Chamber, but alsoe leave hearkeninge 
or enquiringe where the K. is, or goeth, be it 
earlye or late, without grudginge, mumblinge, 
or talkinge of the Kinge's pastyme, late or 
earlye goinge to bedde, or any thing doen by 
his H. as they will avoyde his displeasure. 

" And it is also ordered, that in case they 
of the Privye Chamber shall heare anye of 
has fellowes, or other person of what estate or 
degree soever, bespeake or use any unfyttinge 
language of the K. he shall with diligence 
disclose and shewe the same with the 
specyalties thereof unto his H. or unto some 
of his Privye Counsell, such as he thinks yt 
meet to shewe and declare unto his H." 

There are strict injunctions as to the conduct 
of the six gentlemen ushers in the presence of 
the King " keeping a vigilante and a reverende 
tespecte and eye to his majestie, soe that by 
his looke or countenance they maye knowe what 
he lackethe or is his pleasure to be hadd or 

Then there was not to be any immoderate 



card playing and the like in the King's absence, 
further injunctions against " makinge of 
suites," and " intermeddling with cases and 
matters whatsoever they bee." 

" .... alwayes regardinge and remember- 
inge the more nigher his Grace has called 
them to his person, the more to be humble, 
reverent, sober, discreet, and serviceable in 
all their doingee, behaviour, and conversa- 
tions to th'entent that not onlye thexebye 
they may deserve the increase of the K.'s 
favoure and good reporte, and brute may 
arise thereby to the good examples of others, 
but alsoe greate honor and wdsdome may be 
ascribed to the K.'s Highnesse, that his Gr. 
hath so circumspectlye chosen such well 
qualified, mannered, and elect persons to be 
nighe, about, and attendant uppon his 


After detailed instructions as to the bringing 
in of food to the King, and, when the day was 
over, collecting and conveying to the 
"Chaundrye," such unused things as " morter, 
torches, quaririere, pricketts, and sises, wholelye 
and entirelye, without embezzleinge or purloyn- 

nynge any part thereof," there follows some 
definite instructions for the Barber: 

" It is also ordeyned that the K.'s harbor 
shalbee dailie by the K.'s uprysinge readye 
and attendaunt in the Privey Chamber, there 
havinge in readinesse his water, clothes, 
bason, knyves, combes, scissars, and such 
other stuffe as to .has room doth appertayne, 
for trymmiuge and dressings of the K.'s heade 
and bearde. And that the saiede Barbor doe 
take an especyall regarde to the pure and 
cleane keepinge of his own person and 
apparell, uainge himselfe always honestlye in 
his conversation, without resorting to the 
companye of vyle persons, in avoydinge such 
danger and annoyance as by that meanes he 
might doe to the K.'s most royall person, nor 
faylinge this to doe uppon payiie of losing 
his ronie, and further punishment at the K.'s 

These extracts are sufficient, perhaps, to illus- 
trate the general purport of the " Statutes of 
Eltham." Those who would like to examine 
the whole of these quaint rules may find a copy 
of the original in " Collection of Rules and 
Regulations for the Government of the Royal 
Household." It is published by the Society of 





Although Edward VI. was no doubt a good 
deal at Eltham as a child, there does not seem 
to be any record of his coming here while King. 

When King Henry VIII. deserted the Palace 
of Eltham, and adopted that of Greenwich as a 
royal residence, the Manor of Eltham was com- 
mitted to the custody of Sir John Peche 20th 
March, 1512 for a term of 20 years, at a rental 
of 34 6s. 8d. 

Ten years later (1522) it was in the hands of 
Sir Henry Guldeford, who was succeeded in 1534 
by Richard Long, by whom it was transferred 
to Sir Thomas Spefce, for it is recorded that 
in July, 1547, Edward VI., in recognition of 
services rendered to his father, Henry VIII., 
granted Sir Thomas " under the Great Seal, the 
office of keeper of the park at Eltham, of the 
houses in the manor of Eltham, and of the new 
park of ' Home ' sometimes called the Little 

Park also the office of Master of the drift of 
the wild animals in both the parks of Eltham 
and East Greenwich." 

Sir Thomas Speke was succeeded by Sir John 
Gates, who wag one of the four principal 
knights of the Privy Chamber, and vice-cham- 
berlain of the King's Household. 

The circumstances of Sir John Gates' acquisi- 
tion of the stewardship and keepership of 
Eltham Manor are rather remarkable, and, as 
they were associated with certain important 
and tragic events in national history, we will 
briefly relate them. 

The young king, Edward VI., was lying at 
Greenwich, sick unto death. While yet his life 
was rapidly ebbing, it would seem that the 
Letters and Privy Seal, conveying to Sir John 
Gates the responsibilities of Eltham, were 
hastily drawn up at Greenwich, July 5th, 1553. 

The boy king died the next day, July 6th, and 



on the very day of his death, was issued, "at 
Westminster under the Privy seal a grant in 
detail embodying all the clauses of the former 
grants to Long and Speke of keepership and 
leases to farm, with the additional benefits of 
the keeper's house near the capital mansion of 
Eltham, and a certain mansion called the 
chantry priest's house within the exterior part 
of the manor, &c., &c." 

It was an ill-fated enterprise, as your history 
books will tell you. Lady Jane was a queen for 
nine days only. Despite the deep laid schemes 
of Northumberland, that nobleman was seized, 
as also was Sir John Gates, the steward of 
Eltham, and nine others of the ringleaders. 

On August 22nd Northumberland, Gates, and 
Palmer were executed on Tower-hill. When 
the Duke of Northumberland and Gates met on 


The king's death was kept a profound secret 
for two days, during which time the conspiracy 
for putting Lady Jane Grey upon the throne 
was in active operation. It is a significant fact 
that at this juncture the grants of the lands 
and offices of Eltham should have been made to 
Sir John Gates. Within a few days, we find 
that officer setting out with the Duke of North- 
umberland, who had been mainly responsible 
for thrusting Lady Jane Grey to the fore, to 
seize the Princess Mary, the elder sister of the 
young king, before she should have been pro- 
claimed as his successor. 

the scaffold, they each accused the other of 
being the author of the treason. They pro- 
tested, however, that they entirely forgave each 
other. When the turn of Sir John came for 
execution, he addressed the people, admitted 
his offences, and said that he "had drawn 
poison from the same flower as the bee extracts 
sweets." He then submitted himself to the 
executioner, refused to have his eyes bandaged, 
and at three blows his neck was severed. 

Sir John, by questionable means, came by 
the stewardship of Eltham, and suffered death 
before he actually came into possession. 



The next steward was Queen Mary's vice- 
chamberlain, Henry Jernyngham. The Queen 
was much indebted to Sir Henry for faithful 
service, and it is not surprising that Eltham 
should have been put under his care. 

When Northumberland, accompanied by Sir 
John Gates, went forth to arrest the princess, 
she fled into Suffolk, and in order to prevent 
her escape by sea, the duke had stationed ships 
along the coast. Sir Henry Jernyngham, how- 
ever, managed not only to capture the ships, 
but to secure the allegiance of the crews to 
Mary, and so helped to turn the tide against 
the Duke of Northumberland. So, when she 
became queen, Mary made Jernyngham Captain 
of her Guards, as well as steward of the Manor 
of Eltham. 

In 1554 we read that the youthful Sir Thomas 
Wyatt headed a rebellion against the queen, 
because of her proposed marriage with the King 
of Spain. Wyatt's headquarters were at 
Rochester, so we find Sir Henry Jernyngham, 
the steward of Eltham, marching, with the 
Duke of Norfolk, at the head of the Queen's 
Guards, against Wyatt, at Rochester. 

It was not a glorious expedition, for, before 
the gates of Rochester, the royal forces went 
over to the other side, and the Duke and Sir 
Henry had to hasten back to the Metropolis as 
fast as their horses would take them. But after 
Wyatt'a attempt upon London, which ended so 
disastrously to himself, it was entrusted to 
Sir Henry Jernyngham to convey him, together 
with Lord Cobham, and Knyvet, as prisoners, 
tj the Tower. 

In the churchwardens' accounts, 1556, we get 
the following entry: "Received for the burial 

of Sir Chaplene to Sir Henry 

Gernygame, knight, who was buried in the 
Church, vjs. viijd." 

In 1556 Queen Mary honoured Eltham by a 
visit, extending over a fortnight. In the diary 
of Machyn we read: 

" The Queen removed from St. James's-in-the- 
Fields unto Eltham, passing through the Park 
and Whitehall, and took her barge, crossing 
over to Lambeth unto my Lord Cardinal's 
Palace, and here she took her chariot, and so 

rid through St. George's Fields unto Newing- 
ton, there over the fields towards Eltham at five 
of the clock afternoon. She was attended on 
horseback by the Cardinal, the Earl of Pem- 
broke, Lord Montagu, and divers other lords 
and knights, ladies and gentlewomen, and a 
conflux of people to see her Grace, above 

The Parish Records, which date from the 
first year of Mary's reign, give many details 
that throw light upon Eltham life during the 
later Tudor period. We have in earlier chap- 
ters dealt with "The May-pole," "The 
Beacon," and many other matters referring to 
Elizabeth's time. We shall now make a few 
more extracts for further illustration of that 

Queen Elizabeth, like her sister, spent much 
of her childhood at Eltham Palace, but after 
she became queen her visits to the " old home" 
were only occasional, and of short duration. 

There are several entries in the church- 
wardens' accounts recording payments to the 
ringers, on the occasion of the queen's visit. 
These wo have already alluded to, and com- 
menting upon the occasion, a distinguished 
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries writes: 
" It was well for the Churchwardens of Eltham 
that they paid her Majesty that mark of 
respect, for the Churchwardens of Saint 
Olave's,, Southwark, were sued in the Star 
Chamber and heavily fined for not ringing their 
bells when the same termagent Queen passed 
down the river in her barge to Greenwich." 

There is an interesting record in the church- 
warden's account, relating to these times which 
we have not yet noticed. 

"Paid for carrying ij. lodes of timber from 
Whets elme to the Churche, xijd." 

The name " Whett's elm" or " Wyatt's elm" 
is frequently met with in the parish records. 

Of this particular entry, Mr. G. R. Corner, 
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, an old- 
time resident of Eltham, in a paper contributed 
to the reports of the above-named society, wrote 
in 1850, " It (Whet's or Wyatt's elm) was South 
End on the road from Eltham town to Foots- 



cray, and probably at the angle formed by the 
road leading to Chiselhurst, called Green Lane; 
but the corner of the road from Eltham to 
Bexley was called White'8 or Wyatt's Grose, 
and I have been informed that there was 
formerly an ancient elm growing there. Ke- 
cently (1850) the skeleton of a, man upwards of 
six feet in length has been discovered there. It 

recorded reply to ifr. Corner's query, though 
nearly sixty years have elapsed. It would seem 
that he has confused the name of Wyatt, who 
wrote amorous poetry in Henry VIII.'s time, 
with Sir Thomas Wyatt, who, a mere youth, 
headed the rebellion against Mary, and suffered 
for his offence at the block. 
A churchwarden's entry in 1572 runs thus: 


was probably the body of a felo-de-se buried at 
the cross road, according to ancient, but now 
happily exploded custom, from whom the place 
may have derived its name of White's or 
Wyatt's Cross." 

Then Mr. Corner puts the following interest- 
ing question: "Can Wyatt's Elm or Wyatt's 
Cross have any connection with Sir Thomas 
Wyatt or his family? His son, George Wyatt, 
the poet, is said to have lived at Bexley." 

There does not appear to have been any 

" Paid at the eating of the buck which Mr. 
Hatton gave to the Parish, xxxvijs. viijd." 

This was Sir Christopher Hatton, who lived 
at Eltham as the keeper of the parks. He was 
a distinguished man in his day, for an old 
rhyme describes him as one 
" Whose high-crowned hat and satin doublet 
Moved the stout heart of England's Queen, 
Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble 

He was appointed keeper of Eltham and 



Home Parks on the 27th July, 1568, for his 
life, and he appears to have enjoyed the office 
until his death in 1591, for oue of his letters is 
dated from Eltham, 15th July, 1590. The 

Sir Christopher's residence at Eltham. There 
was the eating of the buck provided by the 
knight, while the churchwardens provided the 
necessary drink, in exemplification of the old 

QUEEN ELIZABETH "PICNICING" (from Turburville "Book of Hunting," 1575). 
By permission of Messrs. MACMILLAN & Co. 

Queen doubtless visited him here. She was 
twice through the town in 1568, once in 1569, 
and she dined at Eltham in 1576, as appears 
from the churchwardens' accounts. 

They seemed to have very festive times during 

saying that "good eating requires good drink- 

And a pleasinpr notice of Hatton's mode of 
living here, shewing his taste and liberality, 
occurs in the intercepted letters of Monsieur de 



Champenaye, Ambassador in England from the 
Low Countries. He says: 

"I was one day by Sir Christopher Hatton, 
Captain of the Queen's Guard, invited to 
Eltham, a house of the Queen's, whereof he 
was the guardian. At which time I heard and 
saw three things that, in all my travels in 
France, Italy, and Spain, I never heard or saw 
the like. The first was a concert of music, BO 
excellent and sweet as cannot be expressed; the 
second, a course at a buck, with the best and 
most beautiful greyhounds that ever I did 
behold; and the third, a man at arms, excel- 
lently mounted, richly armed, and indeed the 
most accomplished cavalier I had ever seen. 
This knight was called Sir Harry Lea, who that 
day (accompanied with other gentlemen at 
arms), merely to do me honour, vouchsafed at 
my return to Greenwich to break certain lances, 
which action was performed with great 
dexterity and commendation." 

In 1574 there appears this grim notice: 

"Itm, paid to John Allee and Richard 
Feltone for the charges of the mearsement 
touching the hew and cry for Brown that 
murthered Mr. Sanders at Shutter's Hill, 
xxxvjs. viijd." 

This alludes to a horrible murder committed 
at Shooter's-hill in 1573, by George Brown, who 
being enamoured of the wife of Master Sanders, 
a merchant, of London, waylaid and murdered 
Sanders (with the connivance of his wife), on 
Shooter's-hill, where he was on his road into 
Kent in pursuit of his business. 

Mr. Sanders' man servant, who was left for 
dead by the icadside, fortunately recovered 
sufficiently before his death to give an account 
of the murder, and accused Brown, who was 
apprehended at Rochester, tried, and executed 
on the spot where the murder was committed, 
and Mrs. Sanders, with two confederates, Mrs. 
Dewry, and a man called Trusty Roger, were 

afterwards tried, convicted, and executed at 

This horrible tragedy gained for the place, 
for a time, the name of "The Hill of Blood," 
and a play was produced on the subject, shew- 
ing how great was the public interest in the 

" 1581. Paid at Sir Thomas Walsingham's at 
the deliverance of Richard a Price to ye gaile, 

Sir Thomas Walsingham, of Scadbury, in 
Chislehurst, was Sheriff of Kent to 5th Eliza- 
beth. His grandson, of the same name had the 
honour of Eltham given him, which was the 
Earl of Dorset's, and the middle park, which 
was Mr. White's. "He has cut down .5,000 
worth of timber, and hath scarcely left a tree 
to make a gibbet." (Mysteries of the Good Old 
Cause, 1660, quoted by Lysons.) 

The following item shews that they used to 
have their little disagreements in those days, 
and were given to litigation, even as people 
often are now: 

" 1596. Memorand. Whereas there was a 
controversie between Mrs. Anne Twist, her 
Mates laundres, and Mr. Wyllm Eliot, about a 
pewe in the churche; It was ordered by the 
Lord Bishopp of Rochester that the said Mrs. 
Twist should have the place where the pewe 
stood, and the said Mr. Elyott to have the pewe, 
and she to builde another of her owne cost, 
which is already done, this xxvjth of August, 

"1596. Paid to the Weyver for degyng 
of turfe for the bute in Estfeld, carryinge and 
makinge, ijs." 

By Act of Parliament of Henry VIII., every 
parish was required to provide butts for the 
practice of archery. This item shews us that 
the parish butts of Eltham were in Eastfield, 
which was at the back of the houses on the 
north side of High-street. 



In the Churchwardens' Accounts for the year 
1556 we get the following entry: 

" Itm r'd for torches for old Stubbes, xiijd." 

The torches were, of course, for the funeral 
of old Stubbes, being used, according to the 
custom of the day, at each corner of the hearse. 
They were provided by the churchwardens, and 
paid for by the relatives, their cost being in 
this case thirteenpence. 

Now this same "old Stubbes" would seem to 
have been the progenitor of a long line of 
Stubbeses, who not only figured pretty pro- 
minently in Eltham history during the ensuing 
hundred years, but eventually became a well- 
known Kentish family, some of its members 
having attained distinction for scholarship and 
occupied prominent positions in the Church. 

The register shews that no less than thirty 
members of this family were baptised at 
Eltham between the years 1584 and 1656. Eleven 
members were married at Eltham during the 
same period, and twenty-two were buried in 
Eltham Church or Churchyard. A perusal of 
the early history of this family is very interest- 
ing, for it throws much light upon the village 
fife of those remote days. 

The "old Stubbes" whose burial cost his 
bereaved relatives the sum of thirteen pence 
for torches would seem to have been John 
Stubbes, whose will was proved on September 
22nd, 1556. 

Let us read this document, and note how 
vividly it brings before our minds many con- 
ditions of local life of the time. 

" In the name of god Amen. I John Stobbes of 
Eltham yeoman hole of mynde &c. my body to 

be buried in the Churchyarde of Eltham to the 
highe Aulter of Eltham iijs. iiijd. to the 
mother Church of Rochester xdjd. Item two 
dussen of brede and a kilderkyn of Ale to the 
pore people of Eltham to my godchildren both 
boyes and gerles my blessinge and grotes apece 
to Margaret my wif the newe howse &c., as 
long as she is a wedowe unto my Sonnes Henry, 
Philip, Eichard, Robert and John Stobbes my ij. 
bowses on Chestlest heth in the p'ryshe of 
Chestle-Aar-st to Alice my youngest Doughter 
ij. of my best Bease. It'm I bequeyth to Eliza- 
beth Borne my dowg-hter one of my best bease 
to Alice my wife's Dowghter a yonge Bullock 
to John Likegrome one of my best Bullocks 
to John and Philip Stobbes the sonnes of Harry 
Stobbes betwene them one bullocke unto my 
wtif vj. bease and all Rest of quick Cattell 
aboute the house and all the Rest of my goods 
to be deuided to my wif and my children in 
equall porc'ons Margaret my wif and Richard 
my sonn exors., John Rolte and John Alee Over- 
seers. Witnesses John Rolte John Alee and 
Edward Eliott. (No date), Proved 22 Sept., 

The Close Bolls reveal a number of business 
transactions in connection with the convey- 
ance of land and property of which the descend- 
ants of " John Stubbes" were owners. 

As an example, we make a copy of one or two, 
since the quaint wording and the local allusions 
are of direct interest: 

"Recognisance dated 14 March 1586. John 
Stubbs Citizen and Fishmonger London to 
Robert Withers Citizen and Vintner of London 
in the sum of JE1000. Whereas the above 
bounden John Stubbs by Indenture of Bargain 



and Sale dated 2 Dec. last past and made be- 
tween him of the one part and the above named 
Robert Withers of the other part, granted, Bold 
&c., to the latter ' All that newe brick messuage 
or tenement with the appurten'nces late in the 
tenure or occupac'on of the sayd John Stubbs 
set and being in the parrishe of Eltham in 
the Countye Kente' and other property (lands, 
&c.) there, purchased by him said John. He 
said John Stubbs and Mary his wife if they 
claim any right title &c., to the said property 
shall do all such reasonable acts, deeds &c., as 
shall be necessary or required." 

The following "Indenture" shews pretty 
clearly the position held by the Stubbs family 
in Eltham in the time of James I. 

"1611. Indenture dated 5 May 9 James I. 
between Tobye Stubbs of Eltham co Kent 
Yeoman son and heir of John Stubbes late of 
the City of London Fishmonger deceased, Henry 
Stubbes of Eltham Tailor sons of Philip Stubbes 
late of London Brewer deceased brother of the 
said John Stubbes of the one part, and Richard 
Slyne of Eltham aforesaid Yeoman of the other 
part, for the sale in consideration of .70 to 
said Richard of ' All that messuage or ten'te,' 
&c., 'and garden plott or small orchard' in 
Eltham aforesaid now or late in the occupation 
of John Smythe Labourer, also of 'all that 
messuage or ten'te' now or late in the occupa- 
tion of Roger Allen Labourer with three roods 
of Land more or less ' lying at Easte fielde in 
the p'ishe of Eltham aforesaid.' " 

It will be remembered that East Field was 
alluded to in the Churchwardens' Accounts as 
the place where the butts had been set up for 
the practice of archery, according to the law of 
Henry VIII. The exact situation of these fields 
does not seem to be quite certain. It may be 
observed that the West Fields are at the west 
end of the parish, just beyond Well Hall sta- 
tion, where the Eltham football teams used to 
play their matches. It may therefore be 
assumed that the East Field may have been 
higher Tip the hill, as Mr. Corner has noticed 
in Archseologia, "north of the houses in the 

We will give one more extract from a Stubbs 
will, because of its great local interest, and the 
vivid little picture it affords us of the times. 
It is from the will of "Katharine Haighte, of 
Eltham, widowe." This lady had been the 
widow of Henry Stubbs, and had taken a second 
husband named Haighte. 

"January 1590 I give to my 

sonne John Stubbs that which he did owe me, 
that I paid for him unto Robert Sonne fish- 
monger, and to Thomas Harince grocer, both 
citizens of London. 

"My best hat to Alice the wife of my son 
Philipp Stubbs. To Katherine, the daughter of 
John Borne deceased, a sawcer and porringer. 
To Jone Hodgekins daur of Elizth Barker, the 
wife of John Barker citizen, a joyned chaire. 
To Richard Browne, blacksmith, of Eltham, a 
mattriss with flocke bolster, and a plaine bed- 
stead. To the poor of Eltham, bread and 
Kilderkin of beare, &c " 

Witnesses: Thomas Swifte, Philipp Stubbs, 
the older, James Swifte, Philipp Stubbs, the 
younger; X, the marke of Katherine Haighte. 

In a codicil dated "the iiij. day of March, 
1590," Mistress Katherine Haighte makes the 
following additional interesting bequests: "I 
give to my son Phillipp Stubbs the corn wheat 
and oats with a parcell of ground and five 
paire of geese. To John and his wife, Eliz. 
Stubbs a pair of Geese. To James Swifte vicar 
of Eltham a paire of Sheets. I give to Mar- 
garet Shawe two gownes a petticoate and 

In the year 1568 we find that Robert Stubbes 
was one of the churchwardens, for, from the 
accounts of the "Fifteen Penny Lands," it is 
recorded that John Rolt and Edward Ellyate, 
Wardens of the Fifteen Penny Lands, in the 
year mentioned, "paid to Robert Stubbes and 
John Petley, Churchwardens, for the repairing 
of the church steaple xxxviijs. viijd." 

It is quite an interesting exercise to trace 
the progress and development of this Eltham 
family, occupying, as many of them did, dis- 
tinguished positions in the City of London, and 
conjure up mental pictures of the village life 



through an examination of the many wills that 
have been collected together in connection with 
the Stubbses. But it would occupy too much 
space to deal with the matter in greater detail. 

There is, however, one scion of the family to 
whom we may well devote some space, for he 
was a scholarly divine, and his life is of addi- 
tional interest, locally, from the fact that he 
was at one time Vicar of Woolwich, and also 

" 1665, Oct. 2. I was born within the Parish 
of St. Andrew, ITndershaft, London, in which 
Parish 11 died of the plague that week; in the 
City 68,596 that year; Lord! what respect hadst 
thou to me and my Father's House? That 
many should fall in that great sickness on the 
right hand and on the left, but no evil happen 'd 
unto me, nor did the Plague approach oiar 
dwelling. Let me thro' ye whole coarse of my 

MUSKETEER (1603). 

one of the first Chaplains appointed to the 
Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich. 

This was Archdeacon Philip Stubbs, the son 
of Philip Stubbs, Master of the Vintners' Com- 
pany from 1660 to 1665, and grandson of Eichard 
Stubbs, who had been attached to the House- 
hold of Queen Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles 
I.), as "Clerk of the Cheque." 

In a private diary which he kept, the future 
Archdeacon relates some of the incidents of his 
youth : 

Life make Thee my refuge even the most High,, 
my Habitation." 

Writing in his diary of his early education, 
he says: 

"1677, Apr. 28. After I had laid a Founda- 
tion for ye Latin Tongue at Mr. Speed's Free- 
School in St. Mary Axe, and for ye Greek at 
Mr. Snell's Boarding Schole in Hillingdon 
Midsx., where in a literal sense I became wiser 
yn my teacher (an honest, good man, but no 
Clerk), I was transplanted to Merchant Taylors' 

No. 107. 

PARK FARM PLACE. The Seat of Lady James (From an old Engraving). 

(About 1785). 

No. 108. 


So. log. 

HORNE FARM. (1909). 






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for further improvement ini Learning, as well 
as advancement in ye University by a Fellow- 
ship of St. Johns, for wch this Schole was 
designed as a Seminary by the Founder of ym 
both, Sr Thomas White Lord Mayor of London 
in Q Mary's Reign, &c." 

He became a Scholar of Wadham College, 
Oxford, and had a distinguished University 
career. After a curacy in London and a Chap- 
laincy to the Bishop of Chichester, Mr. Stubbs 
was collated to the Rectory of Woolwich in 1694 
by the Bishop of Rochester. He held this 
living over five years, and then proceeded to 
that of St. Alphege, London Wall. 

It is interesting to note that he was active in 
the development of the Christian Knowledge 
Society in 16981704, and of the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. 
He was elected a member of the S.P.G. on Sep- 
tember 15th, 1702, and he wrote its first report, 
on the last page of which (issued in 1704) was 
printed the following resolution: 

"At a Court held at St. Martin's Library, 
Feb. 4, 1704. Resolved that the thanks of this 
Society be given to the Rev. Mr. Stubbs for the 
great pains and care he hath taken in prepar- 
ing the New Account of the Proceedings of the 

Society. Resolved that this Order be printed at 
the foot of the said Account." 

In number 147 of The Spectator, August 18th, 
1711, an article will be found, from the pen of 
Steele, on the subject of "Reading the Church 
Service," which directly refers to Mr. Stubbs 
and is an interesting testimony to his great 

In 1715 he was made Archdeacon of St. 
Alban's. He died on September 13th, 1738, and 
was buried at Greenwich. 

The tombstone over his grave is still pre- 
served in the mausoleum at Greenwich, and is 
inscribed : 

"Here lyes till the last day 

What was mortal 
Of the Revd. Mr. Philip Stubbs, B.D., 

Archdeacon of St. Albans, 
Chaplain to Greenwich Hospital, 


Rector of Launton, Oxfordshire, 
What he truly was, that day will discover." 

This was one of the distinguished members of 
a family that originated in Eltham, and for 
many years, dating from the reign of Queen 
Mary, played a prominent part in the village 
life and history. 

JAMES I. (Vandyke). 



Sir Christopher Hatton, as we have already 
noticed, held the stewardship of Eltham Manor 
till he died in November, 1591. In the follow- 
ing July (1592) he was succeeded by William 
Brooke, Lord Cobham, K.G., who was also the 
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He held the 
office for five years, until his death in 1597, 
when, it seems, the duties were divided between 
Sir William Brooke, who was made the keeper 
of the Great Park, and Hugh Miller, who was 
given the charge of the Little Park. 

The reversion of these two offices fell to Lord 
North in 1599. He died the following year, 
when he was succeeded by Sir Thomas Wal- 
singham to the keepership of the Great Park, 
and by John Leigh to that of Home Park. 

James the First came to the throne on the 
death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, and soon after 
his accession a commission was appointed to 

make a survey of the lands and tenements of 
the Manor of Eltham. 

The survey was held " at his Majesty's Manor 
of Eltham, by virtue of a Commission under 
the Seal of his Highness' Court of Exchequer, 
directed to the Eight Hon. the Lord Stanhope, 
High Steward there, dated June 3, 1605. The 
Commissioners were Sir Thomas Walsingham, 
Sir Percival Hart, Sir Olif Leigh, John 
Doddridge, Esq., Solicitor-General, Sir Francis 
Bacon, Matthew Hadds, and Ealf Ewens 
Equires, Henry Heyman, Esq., his Majesty's 
Surveyor of Kent. Among the Commissioners 
fined ten shillings each for not appearing on 
the jury were William Boughton of Plump- 
stead, gent., Samuel Abell, of Erith, gent., and 
Thomas Wildgose, of Lewisham." 

In reference to this commission it is in- 
teresting to note that one of its members was 



Sir Francis Bacon. We may well be proud 
of the association of this eminent man with 
our Tillage, for he was indeed a great man, 
one whose writings, as well as whose character, 
belong bo the world. He had already attained 
to distinction under Queen Elizabeth. He was 
learned in the law, had been a Member of 
Parliament, and had already attracted much 
notice by his writings. The future author of 
Novum Organum, had only just been knighted 
when he was placed by King James upon the 
commission of Eltham Manor, but he was, sub- 
sequently, to become Baron Verulam, and 
Viscount St. Alban, and to have his name in- 
scribed upon the roll of immortal Englishmen. 

The records of this commission are still pre- 
served. They are lengthy, and so full of detail 
that we can hardly reproduce them here in 
their entirety. We may, however, make a few 

Those interested in local field names will, per- 
haps, like to read the names that were in 
existence in the time of Henry VIII., as shewn 
by the report of the Solicitor-General to this 
Commission of King James. 

Brodemead, 4 acres; Littlemersh, near 
Footbridge, J acre; Long Lane; Westfield; 
Estfield; Estbosommnefield ; Clerk's lese; 
Farnefox; Frethes; Eyddon; Southditch; 
Horsecroft; Brodeplotte; Great Marsh field; 
Stockwood; Cannonfield. 

The following particulars as to the conditions 
at the time of the Commission are also interest- 

"The Demesne Lands sworn to by the jurors, 
tenants, and Ealf Treswell, sen., the measurer, 
viz. : 

The scite of the Manor house of our Lord 
Sovereign the King in Eltham with the moate 
aboute the same Courte, Garden, Orchard, and 
building within the great gate there, 4 acres, 
3 roods, 13 poles. 

The storehouse with the timber yard without 
the gate, 3 roods. 

The Great Bakehouse without the gate. 

The Great Parke, the circumference whereof 
is by the pale and briokwall of the orchard 

1,437 perches, which is four miles one quarter 
and 77 perches, and conteyneth within 612 acres, 
1 rood, 10 poles. 

17 September, 1605. Item, npom the view of 
the Deare in the said Parke there was found 
about the number of fire hundred and Ten 
Deare, of the which there was about seven 
score and ten Deare of Antlar, and 50 tymber 
trees of oake. 

The Olde Parke oJ' Middle Parke, within 
the pale, and without the moate and buildngs 
there, doth conteine about 948 perches, which 
is two myles i 68 perches, and conteyneth 308 
acres 3 roods. 

Item, upon the viewe of the Deare there 
was found 240 Deare, of which there was t7 
of Antlar, and 250 Tymber Trees of Oake. 

The New Parke al's Home Parke conteyneth 
about by the pale 988 perches, which is three 
myles 28 perches, and conteyneth 345 perches 
3 roods. 

Item, upon the viewe of the Deare there was 
found 240 Deare, of the which there was 69 
Deare of Antlar, and 2,740 trees of Oake, and 
there is decayed in the same Parke 50 rod 
of pale on the south side thereof adjoining 
to the land of Robert Skyfte and Arnold 

The King's tenants at this time were : 

Sir William Roper, holding 35a. 2 roods, 4 
poles. Rent 16s. 5d. 

Sir William Wythens, 2 acres roods, 22i 
poles. Rent Is. lOd. 

Hugh Miller, gent., 27 ac. rds. 27 pis. Rent 
41s. 2d. 

Anne Twist, widow (circ.), 81 acres. Rent 
(circ-) 25s. 

William Elliot (circ), 130 acres. Rent (circ.) 
57s. Id. 

Philip Stubbs (circ.), 53 ac. Rent 33s. 8d. 
(circ.), &c., &c. 

King James does not seem to have resided at 
Eltham, but there are records of his coming 
here on hunting expeditions. According to the 
churchwardens' accounts paymenta were made 
to the ringers for the ringing of peals on these 



In "Processions and Progresses of James I." 
by John Nichols, we are told of a visit made 
to Eltham hy the King along with hie brother- 
in-law, King Christian of Denmark, and his 
son, Henry Prince of Wales. A contemporary 
writer says of this visit: 

" These gracious Kings, accompanied with 
our Royal Prince and many honourable 
persons, mounted on steeds of great price, and 
furniture faire, hunted in the Park of Green- 
wich, and killed two bucks. Afternoon, their 
High Estates went to Eltham, a house of His 

and was, apparently, a thing of more than 
ordinary ingenuity, for its fame reached the 
Metropolis and people used to come out and 
witness it. 

Ben Jonson in his play, " The Silent Woman," 
makes one of his characters allude to it. 

Morose, a gentleman that loves quietude, 
has been very much distracted by the noise 
about him; so he is made to say to his friend 
Truewit and others : 

" You do not know what misery I have 

JAMES I. AND ATTENDANTS, HAWKING (from an old Print). 

Majesty's, some two miles distant from the 
Court, and killed three bucks, with great 
pleasure on horseback." 

It seems that the royal personages were 
followed by " many companies of people, which 
in their love came to see them," running after 
them and cheering as Kentish countrymen 
know well how to cheer. 

In the early part of King James' reign 
Eltham found a sort of special notoriety on 
account of the " Motion " which was to be 
eeen there. 

The Eltham " Motion," was an invention of 
on* Cornelius Drebbel, a native of Alkmaar, 

been exercised this day, what a torrent of evil! 
My very house turns round with the tumult! 
I dwell in a windmill; the perpetual motion is 
here, and not at Eltham." 

On another occasion, Ben Jonson alludes to 
the " motion" as the " Eltham thing." 

An account of the " motion" ie given in the 
appendix to this book. 

In 1616, King James made Sir Theodore de 
Mayerne the Keeper and Ranger of the New 
Park of Home. Sir Theodore was chief 
physician to the King, and the keepership was 
in consideration of his services in this capacity, 
for which he also received 4d. a day. 



Sir Theodore was a distinguished Frenchman 
who had occupied the position of Physician in 
Ordinary to Henry IV. of France. After the 
assassination of the French King, he was in- 
vited to England, and given a similar post at 
the English Court. The English physicians 
did not approve of his treatment of Prince 
Henry, but the King and Council accorded him 
satisfactory certificates, and the College of 
Physicians elected him a Fellow in 1616. 

James, King of Merrie England, 

A notable Prince was he, 
And wide his name was known to fame 

For his philosophic. 
But though he was a goodly king, 

And a godly man also, 
Great was his shout, whenever gout 

Did take him by the toe. 


In this same year he was appointed to the 
stewardship at Eltham. It was while the Court 
physician was occupying this post here, that 
the King visited Eltham, 1612, to hunt the 
buck, and, according to " Carletou's Letters," 
to bathe his bare feet and legs in the warm 
blood of the beast, as a remedy for the gout. 

In these days, one may well wonder whether 
this curious prescription was that of the Court 
physician himself. The following verses upon 
this interesting incident appeared in the 
columns of the Eltham Times a few years 

For kings, you see, they are but men, 

And queens but women, too; 
Though gold their crown, and silk their gown, 

Their blood a hue so blue. 
And tics and rheums will rack the limbs 

Of earl and churl likewise; 
And sharp be aches for him who takes 

Too little exercise. 

The King he groaned a kingly groan, 

And flung the pillows wide; 
And grim his speech to the royal leech 

Who stood at his bed-side. 



"O King," that Court physician said, 

" Be patient in thy pain, 
"And all my skill I'll ply until 

"Thou'rt whole and sound again. 

" To-inorrow, at the break of day, 

"Thou'lt mount thy fleetest nag, 
" Whate'er betide, to Eltham ride, 

" To hunt the lordly stag. 
" To hunt the lordly buck, O King, 

" Till he can run no more. 
" Then 'twill be meet, thy royal feet, 

" To bathe them in his gore." 

The King rode forth from London town, 

With lords and ladies gay; 
And towards the shades of Eltham's glades 

They sped upon their way. 
And Eltham men, from out the tower, 

A merry peal did ring; 
Twelve pennies bright they spent that night, 

In drinking to their King. 

And James, he chased the lordly buck 

From Eltham Court to Lee; 
And many a wight declared the sight 

Was goodly for to see. 
" Yoicks ! " and " Tantivvy ! " echoed wide, 

As through the glades they sped; 

Nor rested they, that summer's day, 
Till the lordly buck was dead. 

Then good King James, upon a log, 

He straightway took a seat; 
And hose and shoon were pulled off soon 

From his royal legs and feet. 
And there, before his courtiers all, 

He bathed them in the gore; 
For thus the leech did him beseech, 

As hath been writ before. 

In days to come, ere yet the moon 

Had passed from full to wane, 
O wondroua thing, for James the King, 

Was quite himself again. 
Some said it was the gory bath 

That health to him had brought; 
And some, as wise, said exercise 

A wondrous cure had wrought. 

But be it this, or be it that, 

Or Eltham's healthy clime, 
Without a doubt the bout of gout 

Did quit him for the time. 
So let us sing " Long live the King ! " 

Right merrie may he be. 
When next, in luck, he kills a buck. 

May I be there to see. 



In "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domes- 
tic," there is a record that Charles I. visited 
Eltham in November, 1629. It was only a 
short visit, probably for a day, and this seems 
to be the last recorded instance of a reigning 
monarch visiting the Palace. The glories of 
Eltham were now become things of the past, 
to be written abont by the historian or to be 
the subject of the poet's song. 

But there are one or two names of Eltham 
residents, at this time, who have played a 
part in our national story, and to whom we 
must now give some attention. 

At the beginning of the reign of King Charles, 
during the summer months, this great artist 
used to reside at Eltham, Carpenter says, in 
apartments allowed him within the Palace, and 
some of his earlier pictures were painted here. 

Among the better qualities of Charles I. was 
his love of art. It was this love which promp- 
ted him to the generous encouragement of men 
of genius, and to the spending of large sums 
of money upon the formation of collections of 
those works of art which helped to enrich the 
country so much. 

When Rubens, the famous painter, was sent 
to England as an ambassador to bring about a 
treaty of peace between Phillip IV. and Charles 
I., the English King took the opportunity to 
commission the painter ambassador to paint 
two pictures, the "Apotheosis of King James" 
and a "St. George." 

In carrying out this work, Rubens gave to 
the saint the features of Charles I., and to 
Cleodelinda those of the queen. 

Rubens became the fashion and several of 
the English nobles ordered pictures. Thus it 
was that pupils of Rubens were attracted to 
England, and amongst them the illustrious 
artist, Antony Vandyck, who took up his abode 
at Eltham Palace. 

Ernest Chesneau, in his book on "The 
English School of Painting," writes : "Attrac- 
ted by the accounts of Charles I's. liberality, he 
(Vandyck) came for the first time in 1637, but 
did not succeed in getting presented to the 
King. He then returned to Antwerp, where 
for six years he painted a host of masterpieces. 

"His reputation now reached the ears of the 
King, who had hitherto ignored him, but who 
now at once recalled him. The painter, who 
needed no second invitation, arrived in London 
in 1632. His success was rapid. He received a 
pension, and in July of the same year was 
knighted and elected painter to the King in 
1633. He was then thirty-four years old. 

"Vandyck passed the remainder of his short 
life in England, where he married the daughter 
of Lord Ruthven. His most valuable works 
are at Windsor Castle in the hall named after 
him portraits of the King, Queen Henrietta, 
and Vandyck himself, the splendid group of 
the children of Charles I., a sketch of which 
ia in the Louvre, where, also, may be seen on& 
of his English masterpieces, a full length por- 
trait of the King." 

There are pictures by this artist at Hampton 
Court, the National Gallery, and in the private 
galleries of the nobility, scattered about the 

So when we contemplate the association of 
this artist with our old-world village we may 



well remember one or two things. When we 
are disposed to be over-critical of the actions 
of the unhappy Charles I. we can set down to 
hie credit that he did much to encourage art 
in this country. "Elizabeth was at once 
greedy and pompous; James I. prodigal and 
mean," writes the author already mentioned; 
bnt "the splendid liberality of Charles I." to- 
wards art was the means of enriching the coun- 
try more than one can estimate. 

And though the old Palace, as a place of 
residence, was now forsaken by its royal 

Eltham House in 1645 and died there in Sep- 
tember, 1646. He was a disappointed man, who 
had been forced to resign his position of com- 
mander-in-chief by the passing of the "Self- 
denying Ordinance." 

Parliament was getting dissatisfied with the 
progress of the struggle with the Royal Forces, 
"and Cromwell had become the principal 
mouthpiece of the dissatisfaction." "Without a 
more speedy, rigorous, and effective prosecu- 
tion of the war," he said to the House of Com- 
mons, "casting off all lingering proceedings, 

DRAGOON (1645). 

owners, we may remember with some pride 
that this prince of painters worked upon his 
canvases in the discarded rooms, in some de- 
gree adding a new glory to their history. For, 
though the names of most of those who, in the 
older times, had thronged the courtly train, 
are lost in the oblivion of the past, the name 
of this artist, and his work still live, and will 
continue to live among the heroes of our 
national story. 


The stern and dogged Parliamentary General, 
who had had command of the forces against 
the King through the great Civil War, came to 

like those soldiers of fortune beyond the sea, 
to spin out a war, we shall make the kingdom 
weary of us, and hate the name of a Parlia- 

Cromwell charged the leaders of the Parlia- 
mentary Army, of whom Essex was the Chief, 
with being "afraid to conquer." 

"If the King be beaten," said Manchester, 
"he will still be king; if he beat us he will 
hang us all for traitors." 

To this the reply of Cromwell was, "If I met 
the King in battle I would fire my pistol at the 
King as at another." 



So Cromwell urged upon Parliament the re- 
organisation of the Army, and out of this new 
policy came the "Self-denying Ordinance." 

The chief officers who controlled the Army 
were Members of one or the other of the Houses 
of Parliament. The "Self-denying Ordinance," 
proposed to the Commons by Cromwell, de- 
clared that no Member of either House should 
hold a command in the Army or a civil office. 

There was a long and bitter resistance to 
this measure, for it debarred from office many 
distinguished officers of the Parliamentary 
Army. It eventually passed the Commons, but 
it was thrown out by the Upper House, where 
it was uncompromisingly opposed by Essex, 
Manchester, and other lords, whose positions 
were directly affected by it. 

But the Commons went on with the re-organi- 
sation. Essex was superseded in the command 
by Sir Thomas Fairfax, and thus it was that 
the former general, soured and disappointed, 
retired to the quietude of Eltham, where he 
lived out the few remaining months of his 
life. He died in September, 1646, the chronicler 
Heath says, "not without suspicion of poison." 
He was buried in a magnificent manner in 
Westminster Abbey in the month of October. 

Charles I. had granted to his Queen, Hen- 
rietta, for a term of 99 years, the manor and 
lordship of Eltham, under the trusteeship of 
the Earl of Holland and the Earl of Dorset. 
The former, by virtue of his office as Chan- 
cellor to the Queen, was entitled to a fee buck 

and doe annually out of the forests, and there 
is a record of a warrant from her Majesty's 
Council Chamber, dated 19 June, 1640, to kill 
a fat buck in the little park called Home 

We find that the Earl of Dorset held the 
manor in 1641, by demise. The Earl was one of 
the loyal adherents to the King, and "on the 
defection of the Earl of Essex, succeeded to the 
office of Lord Chamberlain. He signed the 
Capitulation of Oxford in 1646. He had the 
benefit of Sir Thomas Fairfax's articles. In 
compounding for his estates, he delivered a list 
of the tenants of the manor at rents amounting 
in the gross to .199 Os. 3d. The names of 
twenty tenants are given. The largest rents 
were paid by Sir John Cotton, Henry Brabant, 
Thomas Preston, Thomas Johnson, and Hugh 

These were troublous times, especially for 
those who supported the royalist cause. Among 
other Eltham gentlemen who found themselves 
in trouble was John White, a member of 
Parliament, and a delinquent, who fled to 
Oxford. He had held, from the Queen, the 
lease of the Little Park and Lodge, and the 
office of keeper, at three pence a day wages, by 
letters patent, dated 17 October, 1641, and the 
value, before the political troubles over- 
whelmed them, of 50 yearly. 

Others were in a similar predicament, but in 
all probability the fate of the Palace and Park 
was sealed, through the "Royalist rising in 
Kent, in 1648." 

(Hollar 1640). 

(Hollar 1640). 

(Hollar 1640). 



Towards the end of the month of May, 1648, 
there was, one day, rnuoh commotion in and 
about the usually quiet and secluded village of 
Eltham. Troops of stern and grim-looking 
soldiers belonging to the Parliamentary Army 
rode into the place. Some quartered them- 
selves for the night upon the cottagers and 
other householders; many bivouacked in the 
open fields. 

There were no less than four regiments of 
horse, three of foot and several companies of 
Colonel Ingoldsby's famous regiment, and 
they were all under the command of General 
Fairfax himself. We may be sure that the 
villagers regarded the advent of these deter- 
mined looking men with a good deal of anxiety. 
They had heard of the battles fought and won 
by them against the King, and Fairfax was no 
doubt the object of particular curiosity, for was 
he not the general who had superseded the 
Earl of Essex, who had died under rather 

peculiar circumstances at Eltham House only 
a year or so before? 

It is more than probable that these military 
heroes were not very welcome visitors, for it 
should be remembered that Kent was loyal to 
King Charles, and we may well surmise that 
Eltham, with all its traditions of royal 
associations, would have been one of the most 
loyal places in Kent. 

There was trouble in the air, and for the 
succeeding week or two Kent was the scene 
of strife. 

Charles was only a king in name. He had 
fled to the Isle of Wight, where he abode, but 
very little more than a prisoner. The "Long 
Parliament," which had been sitting since 1640, 
and continued to sit till 1660, ruled the country, 
through local committees, which were ap- 
pointed for all the counties and cities. 

" In every county a certain number of 



deputy-lieutanants known to be warm partisans 
of the Parliament reigned supreme. In Kent, 
it appears that at last none but the most 
determined adherents of the Parliament re- 
mained to do business. And their business 
appears to have been to do entirely what they 
pleased, provided the interests of the Parlia- 
ment were furthered at all hazards." Such 
are the words of a commentator upon the 
doings of this period. 

But a contemporary document, entitled 
"'A Declaration of many thousands of the City 
of Canterbury and County of Kent, 1648," 
gives us a vivid presentment of the abuses that 
accompanied this system of local government. 
It runs thus: 

"The two Houses have sat seven years to 
hatch cockatrices and vipers. They have filled 
the kingdom with serpents, bloodthirsty 
soldiers, extortionary committees, seques- 
trators, excise men ; all the rogues and scum of 
the kingdom have been set on to torment and 
vex the people, to rob them, and to eat the 

bread out of their mouths They 

have suppressed the Protestant religion, 
suffered all kinds of heresies and errors in the 
kingdom, have imprisoned, or at least silenced, 
all the orthodox clergy, taken away the liveli- 
hood of many thousand families, and robbed 
the fatherless and the widow." 

It is interesting to note that one of the 
members of the " Committee of Kent " in 1643 
was Sir Thomas Walsingham, who was the 
Lord High Steward of the Manor of Eltham at 
the time. 

Now, although the "Declaration" from 
which we have quoted is the expression of men 
who were doubtless strongly partisan in favour 
of the King, it reveals the spirit that existed 
amongst Kentish men at the time, who resented 
then, as they always had done, any attempts 
to encroach upon their liberties. 

The " committees" appointed by the Parlia- 
ment to carry out their instructions would 
seem to have been unnecessarily intolerant and 
aggressive; at any rate, as regarded from the 
standpoint of the twentieth century. The fol- 
lowing narration will illustrate this. 

It should be observed that the observance of 
Christmas, which to Englishmen had always 
been one of the most joyous of the Christian 
seasons, was new "Contrary to the ordinances 
of Parliament, for all superstitious festivals 
had been by it abolished." 

Writing in " Archseologia Cantiana," Colonel 
George Colomb, F.S.A., says: 

"About Christmas, 1647, no doubt the people 
of Kent, like their fellows elsewhere, began to 
think sadly and bitterly of former and freer 
times. Their apprehensions for the future were 
probably at this date increased by the be- 
haviour of the Houses towards the King, who 
was now confined in the Isle of Wight, though 
not yet closely imprisoned. 

" The ' Committee and Mayor,' on Christmas 
Day, 1647, opposed an attempted divine service 
at Canterbury, and tried to make the people 
open their shops. 

"The result was a riot, which ended in the 
seizure of the defences of the City by an anti- 
Parliament mob, the cry being raised, Tor 
God, King Charles, and Kent.' 

"Some gentlemen at last succeeded in 
pacifying the incensed people, and, according 
to Matthew Carter, agreed, with the Mayor and 
Committee of Kent that no revenge should be 

"But within a week, fortified by the COBI- 
mands of Parliament, the ' Committee of Kent ' 
entered Canterbury in state, with an immense 
force to back them, pulled off the gates, made 
what they called 'a convenient breach in the 
walls' about fifty yards in width and after a 
searching inquiry, which lasted about a fort- 
night, sent the gentlemen who had quieted the 
people to Leeds Castle, at that time used as a 
prison for ' malignants,' as the loyal party were 

"They also made a long report of their pro- 
ceedings, in which they recommended that the 
gentlemen before mentioned, as well as a good 
many other inferior persons, should be brought 
to ' condign punishment.' The committee at 
the same time hinted that, as the people of 
Kent were in general ' malignant,' a court of 
war would be the most satisfactory tribunal 
to refer the business to." 



These things happened at Christmas, 1647, 
and the beginning of the following year. 

On May llth, 1648, a special Assize was held 
at the Castle of Canterbury, for the purpose of 
trying the offenders. 

"At the impannelling of the jury," says a 
Royalist pamphlet, "Judge Wild gave them a 
charge so abominable and bloodthirsty that 
the people were ready to destroy him." 

The grand jury ignored the bill, and when 
pressed again, brought in a second 
"ignoramus.' Not content with this, they 
turned the tables on the " Commission " by 
drawing up that historic document, "The 
Petition of Kent, 1648," which was: 

"The Humble Petition of the Knights, 
Gentry, Clergy and Commonalty of the County 
of Kent, subscribed by the Grand Jury, on 
Thursday, 11 May, 1648, at a Sessions of the 
Judges upon a Special Commission of 
Oyer and Terminer, held at the Castle of 
Canterbury, in the said county, 

" Sheweth, &c., &c." 

We have not space to give the whole text of 
this interesting petition, but the chief features 
of its prayer were for peace between King 
and Parliament, disbandment of the Army of 
Fairfax, government according to the estab- 
lished laws of the kingdom, and protection of 
property according to the " Petition of Eight" 
from illegal taxation. 

We are told that "tne effect of bhe document 
was electric. It started with the signatures of 
200 gentlemen of Kent. In a few days 20,000 
names were affixed to it. The petitioners were 
to assemble at Rochester on the Prince of 
Wales's birthday, the 29th of May, and proceed 
thence to Blackheath. 

"The Parliament pronounced the petition 
'feigned,' 'scandalous,' and 'seditious.' The 
' Committee of Kent ' condemned it by pro- 
clamation, and at once mustered forces to 
suppress it." Extreme measures were taken to 
prevent people signing it. . ' 

"The men of Kent, thua provoked, deter- 
mined to march to Westminster with the 
petition in one hand and the sword in the 
other. The fleet in the Downs caught the in- 

fection put Vice-Admiral Rainsborough and 
most of the officers ashore, and declared for 
King Charles and Kent." 

The disaffection spread so rapidly throughout 
the county that Parliament became alarmed, 
and decided that "they do leave the whole 
business to the General." The general was, 
of course, Fairfax, who proceeded at once to 
take military operations. 

Nearly 10,000 men of Kent, with such arms 
as they could procure, rose up in defence of 
their " Petition," which they declared to be 
constitutional, and prepared to carry it to the 
doors of the Houses of Parliament. 

Some of them hastened this way in advance 
of the rest, and, passing througih Eltham, 
reached Blaokheath on the 29th of May, where 
they found the Lord General Fairfax at the 
head of 7,000 horse and foot. 

Here they were unable to obtain a pass from 
the General to allow ten of their number to 
present the petition while the main body 
meantime lay at a distance. 

" The Kentish men," says the Bloody News 
from Kent, " forced back from Deptford, 
Greenwich and Blackheath, went to Rochester, 
and crossed the bridge. The whole resolved 
not to fight, but to hold the passes." 

Hence the exciting day in Eltham village, 
when, on the evening of May 29th, the soldiers 
of Fairfax marched in and took up their 
quarters for the night. 

Next day, three hundred cavalry sprang to 
their saddles, and " having taken up 100 foot 
behind them," set out in pursuit of the retreat- 
ing " petitioners," under the command of 
Major Huabands. 

At Northfleet they found 600 "petitioners," 
under Major Childs, who had barricaded the 
bridge. Huabands, without hesitation, dashed 
ap the river, and the Royalists fled, spreading 
such dismay that the pursuers found not a man 
in Gravesend. 

Fairfax marched from Eltham to Maidstone, 
wihere one thousand Royalist horse and foot 
who occupied the town had been reinforced by 
another force of a thousand, under Sir Wil- 
liam Brockman. 


The general attacked the town on Friday, 
June 2nd, and a desperate fight ensued. "Fair- 
fax met with such resolute opposition that he 
was forced to gain each street inch by inch, and 
the engagement lasted for nearly five hours, 
almost until midnigiht. Retreating, step by 
step, the Royalists reached the churchyard, 
whence they were at last driven into the church 
itself, where, after a long fight, they were 
obliged to make the best terms they could." 

The defeat at Maidstone was a crushing blow 

to the "Petitioners," who never recovered 
from its effects, and in course of time the 
"Royalist rising in Kent" was crushed. 

Before the year was out the King was cap- 
tured by the Army, was tried in Jaunary of 
1649, and on the 30th of that month was 

Then the royal demesne of Eltham passed 
into the hands of the Parliament, and the fate 
of the Palace was sealed. 

CUIRASSIER 1645 (Spec, at Goodrich Court). 



As we have already noticed, the Kentish 
rising of 1618 was easily quelled by General 
Fairfax, and a result of the failure of the 
" Petitioners" to advance the cause of the King 
was a severe blow to the royal prestige in the 
neighbourhood of Eltham. 

For a while there was a period of lawlessness 
in the village. The "soldiers and common 
people" tore down the fences that enclosed the 
royal parks the Great Park, Home Park and 
Middle Park killed the deer, laid waste the 
gardens and pleasure ground, and ransacked 
the Palace. 

At this period Colonel Rich was a con- 
spicuous figure in the Parliamentary Army. 
He had helped Fairfax in his operations against 
the "Petitioners" of Kent, and distinguished 
himself in the relief of Dover, and in the re- 
covery of the castles along the Kentish coast 
which had been captured by the Royalists. 

On January 30th, 1649, King Charles was 
executed, and the Manor of Eltham, in common 
with the other Royal estates, was taken posses- 
sion of by the Parliament, and vested in 
trustees, with the view to their being surveyed 
and sold to supply the necessities of the State. 

In consequence of the lawlessness that was 
going on at Eltham, we find, in July, 1649, 
Colonel Rich, by order of Parliament, marching 
into Eltham at the head of a detachment of 
cavalry, to protect the Palace and parks from 
plunder. But the mischief by this time had 
been done. 

The Parliamentary survey was taken in th 
months of October, November and December 
of this same year, a summary of which has 

already been given in an earlier chapter of this 

At the time of the survey, the chief ranger of 
the Great Park was Patrick Maule, who had 
been groom of the bedchamber to Charles I. 
Sir Theodore Mayerne, who had been chief 
physician to James I., was the ranger and 
keeper of Home Park. We have already 
noticed this distinguished man in the chapter 
dealing with James I. The high steward of the 
manor was Sir Thomas Walsingham, whom we 
have already alluded to as one of the Kentish 
" Committee" appointed by Parliament to 
administer the local affairs of the county. 

It will be seen from the survey that the parks 
were rich in timber. The surveyors carefully 
marked the fine oaks for utilitarian purposes. 
No less than 4,000 of these giants were destined 
for the woodman's axe, and were subsequently 
felled to provide timber for the national ship- 
building yards at Deptford. 

So, although we may feel sorry that the 
beautiful Eltham parks should have been 
denuded of these stately trees, it is some con- 
solation to know that they went to the building 
of those " wooden walls of old England " which 
served so useful a purpose in national defence 
during the years that followed. 

More than 4,000 trees were marked as old 
"dottrells," and were sold for firewood or any 
other useful purpose, the proceeds being 
devoted to purposes of the State. 

The following extracts from " Domestic 
State Papers" throw some light upon the fate 
of our Eltham trees. From these references it 
appears that the work of tree-felling was 



already begun by the Government before the 
survey had been taken: 

"7 May, 1649 80 tons of timber, felled by 
Mr. Bentley in Eltham for wharfing, were gent 
to Deptford for the navy, and 80 tons more of 
inferior timber were ordered to be felled there 
instead. Orders were issued in March for fell- 
ing 730 more oak, elm and ash trees in Eltham. 

"The Act, passed 17 July, 1649, for the sale 
of the Crown lands, provided that all timber 
growing within 15 miles of a navigable river, 
fit for the Navy, should be cut down and 
carried away before 10 July, 1657." 


In 1649, Colonel Rich came to Eltham in his 
official capacity to protect the Manor from 
plunderers. Two years later, in 1651, we find 
him to have been a purchaser of a large portion 
of the estate. 

In the "Close Boll," 1653, p. 38; Inroll 8 
Jan.," we find the following record: 

"Ind're 16 August, 1651, between William 
Steele, Recorder of London, and the trustees, of 
the one part, and Nathaniel Rich, of Eltham, 
Esqr., of the other part, for .16,615 13s. lid., 
part of a gross sum of .34,123 5s. 9Jd., Nath. 
Rich purchased the Manor of Eltham, with all 
its privileges and appurts., the manor or court- 
house, the arbor, Great Park, parish lawn, the 
Little or Middle Park, yearly value .223 140. 
7jd., and fees of court, etc., .162, the copyhold, 
advowson, and navy timber excepted." 

Other portions of the Crown estates found 
purchasers, among whom were Edmund Lisle, 
of the Isle of Wight, and Azariah Hoaband, of 
Chanton, county Southampton, who expended 
considerable same. 

Colonel Rich, however, played so prominent a 
part in our Eltham story of these times that 
we may perhaps say something more about 

According to the " Dictionary of Biography," 
he was the eldest son of Robert Rich, and was 
admitted to Gray's Inn, August 13th, 1639. 
When the Civil War broke out he took sides 
against the King, and entered the "Life 
Guards," under the Earl of Essex. He 
obtained his commission as Captain in 1643, and 

raised a troop of horse in the county of Essex. 
He then joined the army of the Earl of Man- 
chester, and became Lieutenant-Colonel in 

When the dispute arose among the Parlia- 
mentary leaders, and Cromwell demanded the 
passing of the "Self-denying Ordinance," 
which led to the resignation of Lord Essex, 
Lord Manchester, and many other leaders, we 
find Rich on the side of Cromwell, as Colonel 
in the new model Army. 

He fought at Naseby with distinction, and 
was a Fairfax Commissioner at the surrender 
of Oxford, while in 1648, when he seems to have 
first come into the Story of Eltham, his regi- 
ment was quartered in London at the mews for 
the protection of Parliament. 

We have alluded to the part which he took 
in that year in patting down the Kentish 

He seems to have been an able man and a 
frequent speaker in the House of Commons, 
where he sat as M.P. for Cirencester, 1649. 

Although John Evelvn, in his diary H656), 
speaks of him contemptuously as "Rich, the 
Rebel," and describes him as the destroyer of 
"the noble woods and park" of Eltham, he i 
said to have been a man who favoured the 
widest toleration, which would seem to have 
been a good trait in his character, when one 
considers what a rare thing toleration must 
have been in those years of hot contention. 

He had scruples about manhood suffrage, 
having fears of extreme democracy. Moreover, 
he is said to have had doubts about the right 
of the people to execute the King, though he 
appears to have held it necessary that the king 
should be tried, and when the time came wa-t 
quite in accord with the policy of establishing a 

Ludiow includes Rich among the "honest 
republican enthusiasts of the army who were 
deluded by Cromwell to assist him in the over- 
throw of the Long Parliament." 

In 1655 we find Colonel Rich an open opponent 
of Cromwell's Government, and deprived of bis 
command in the Army. 

In the same year he was summoned before 
the Protector's Council, charged with opposing 



the levy of taxes and stirring up dissaffection, 
and was accordingly committed to the custody 
of the Serjeant-at-Arms. There seems to have 
been trouble, too, in connection with Eltham 
Manor at this particular time. It will have 
been noticed that among the conditions of pur- 
chase of the Eltham estate was one which 
excluded navy timber from the sale. 

But in the " State Papers " we get the fol- 
lowing record, which points to suspicious prac- 

"The Commission certified, 7 April, 1655, to 
great embezzlement of Timber at Eltham, con- 
sequently the Admiralty Committee ordered all 
trees remaining there to be felled, sold, or ex- 
changed, and the embezzlement to be enquired 
into, Mr. Willoughby to manage the business." 

In 1656, we find the Colonel again in confine- 

The restoration of the Long Parliament saw 
Rich, next year, restored to hfs command. 

In 1660, Eich perceived that the policy of 
General Monk would lead to the restoration of 
the monarchy. He therefore tried to induce 
his regiment to declare against it. For this, 
Monk deprived him of his command, and 
appointed Colonel Ingoldeby in his place. 

In this year the Restoration actually took 
place, and Eioh found himself in prison. He 
was, however, soon liberated, as he had not 
been one of the judges of the late King Charles, 
and was not excluded from the act of 

Rich was, in religious belief, a " Fifth 
Monarchy Man," and had been one of the 
leaders of this short-lived sect. Their belief 
was of a semi-political character, admitting the 
idea of "no king but Christ." Some years 
before (1657), when it was supposed that Crom- 
well harboured designs of " kingship," the 
" Fifth Monarchy Men" tried to organise a 
rising against " The Protector," and Colonel 
Rich was amongst tha leaders. 

"They fixed Thursday, April 9th, for the 
rising. They issued a proclamation called ' A 
Standard set up,' ordered Mile End as the 
place of rendezvous, and, headed by one Ven- 
ner, a wine merchant, and other persons of the 

City, calculated upon introducing the reign of 
the Millennium. They encouraged each other, 
says Thurloe, with the exhortation that though 
they were but worms, yet they should be instru- 
mental to thresh mountains. They spoke, he 
says, great words of the reign of the saints, 
and the beautiful kingdom of holies which 
they were to erect, and talked of taking away 
all taxes, excise, customs, and tithes. They 
had banners painted with the device of the lion 
of the tribe of Judah, and the motto, " Who 
shall raise him up!" 

But a troop of horse descended upon their 
meeting at Mile End, frustrated their designs, 
and Venner, together with Colonel Eich, 
Admiral Lawson, Major-General Harrison, and 
other leaders were cast into prison. Cromwell, 
however, did not mete out any severe punish- 

In 1661, soon after the Restoration of the 
Monarchy, we find that the "Fifth Monarchy 
Men," led by Master Venner, renewed their 
attempt to raise their standard. The circum- 
stance gave rise to considerable excitement; 
suspicion fell upon Colonel Rich, and Charles 
II. ordered his arrest. Venner, who was also 
arrested, was executed, but Rioh was, in 1662, 
transferred to Portsmouth, where he does not 
seem to have been kept in very strict confine- 

In 1663, while still nominally a prisoner, he 
married Lady Ann Kerr, daughter of the first 
Earl of Ancram. 

This good lady, in a letter to her brother, 
describes her husband as " a prisoner for no 
crime, but only because he is thought a man 
of parts." And so far was he from harbouring 
any designs against the king, his good wife 
declares that he was "so resolved upon his 
duty to his Majesty that I am assured if it 
were in his power it would never be in his 
heart ever to set himself against him, directly 
or indirectly." 

Two years after he was released. 

When Charles II. "came to his own," the 
Manor of Eltham reverted to the Crown. But 
the Palace was in ruins. Practically all the 
buildings had been pulled down and the 













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No. 126. 



No. 127, 



From the Copy possessed by Mrs. Dobell. 
(See the Sherards). 
















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No. 132. 


In Westminster Abbey, as it appeared in 1723, fifty-three years before the destruction 

of the Canopy. 

From an Engraving in " Westmonasterium " by John Dart. 
(Kindly lent for this book by Mr. A. J. Sargent, London Institution), 



materials carried away, probably for building 
purposes. The majestic hall, however, was 
allowed to stand, seeing that it was so well 
adapted for use as a barn. Sio transit gloria 
mundi. We may well be thankful that the 
vandals of the seventeenth century left us thus 
much, even though it waa to fulfil so lowly a 

"The hall, where oft in feudal pride 

Old England's peers in council came; 
When Cressy's field apread far and wide 

Edward of Windsor's warlike fame; 
Whose raftered roof and portals long 

Rung, while unnumbered harps awoke; 
Now echoes but the thresher's song, 

Or the sad flail's incessant stroke." 





In conformity with the plan upon which we 
have been considering the story of our village 
we now direct our attention to Well Hall, whose 
history comes next in order of antiquity. New- 
comers amongst us associate the name of Well 
Hall with the small town with peculiar street 
names which has lately sprung up in the valley 
and upon the lower slopes of Shooter's-hill. 

The name so applied is a little misleading, for 
it diverte the attention from the true Well 
Hall, which is really the old farm buildings 
and the quaint looking manor-house which 
stand between the railway and the corner at 

A considerable portion of the old moat is 
etill in existence a relic of very great interest. 
Remains of .the old mansion itself, now used 
mainly for agricultural purposes, still exist to 
tell their tale of Tudor times. To the north 
and south of it are still left some of the pic- 
turesque, but rather comfortless, cottages where 
probaby dwelt the work people who were em- 
ployed upon the lands of the lord of the manor. 

In these days of rapid building operations, 
the present hall must be accounted old, 
for it was erected by Sir Gregory 
Page as far back as 1733. It is said that 
he pulled down a large part of the original 
mansion in order to carry out the work. 

When George the Third was king, the house 
was occupied by Mr. Arnold, who was watch- 
maker to his Majesty, and it was he who erected 
the portions on each side of the main front 
which are now so characteristic a feature ot 
the building. Mr. W. T. Vincent, in his in 
teresting " Records of the Woolwich District," 
tells us that these added portions were for the 

accommodation of Mr. Arnold's workmen. 
From the same source we learn that this royal 
and ingenious watchmaker made " a chrono- 
meter so small as to be worn in a ring on his 
Majesty's finger." 

Mr. Vincent, in his comments upon the 
remains of the old mansion, directs attention 
to the " double moat, lawn, and garden, over- 
shadowed by cedars an interesting survival of 
departed greatness." 

Only a few years ago, before the railway 
which runs close by was constructed, and before 
the great expanse of slate-roofed houses was 
even dreamed of, the situation of Well Hall was 
indeed truly rural. The old winding Wool- 
wich road had not then been modernised, and 
all around were pasture land and cultivated 

It needs no great effort of imagination to 
picture the scene anterior to this, when Well 
Hall Green was the scene of village games, 
when the woodlands that covered the slopes 
from Kidbrook and Charlton afforded cover for 
the game which provided eport for the lords 
of Well Hall Manor, and Kidbrook-lane was the 
principal road between Eltham and Greenwich. 

Modern innovations, the results of modern 
civilisation, have robbed Well Hall of much of 
the delightful seclusion and quietude of its 
earlier days, but even now it has many rustic 
charms, which are enhanced by the spirit of 
romance that still pervades it. 

We read of the Manors of Well Hall and East 
Home as far back as in the days of Henry I., 
1100, about thirty years after the Conquest, when 
it was in the possession of one, Joran de Briset, 
whose name suggests Norman associations. 



It was this De Briset who founded a nunnery 
at Clerkeiiwell, and, according to Hasted, " gave 
the nans ten acres in his lordship of ' Wellyng- 
hall ' in exchange for ten acres in Clerkenwell, 
on which he founded this Hospital of the 
Knighte Hospitallers of St. John of 

Commenting upon this, Dr. Drake says that 
" This foundation was the first of the Order in 
England. The Lord Prior had precedence over 
all the Barons in Parliament. His service for 
land in Eltham was 7s. 8d." 

In the time of Henry III., in 1253-4, we find 
that the Lord of the Manor of Home and Well 
Hall was one Matthew de Hegham. 

lu 1346 the estate was held by John de 
Pulteney, who seems to have been particularly 
well blessed with landed estates in many parts 
of Kent. He held Well Hall at the time when 
Edward III. was king, and when the great 
tournament organised by that monarch took 
place at Eltham. We may be pretty sure that 
the Knight of Well Hall was among those who 
were present. 

When Richard II was conducting his coun- 
cils at Eltham Palace, or holding those great 
feasts there for which his Court was noted, the 
Lord of Well Hall was " Thomas Conduyt, 
clerk, brother and heir of Nicholas Conduyt, 
formerly of London," and we find that in 1385 
this gentleman granted the manor to Gilbert 
Purneys, of London. 

About ten years later " Philip Burton and 
his wife, Joan, quit-claimed, for themselves and 
for the heirs of Joan, a moiety of 3 messuages, 
200 acres of land, 30 mead, 40 wood, with 
appurts, in Eltham, Modyngham, and Kid- 
broke, to Margaret, once wife of Sir Nicholas 
Sharny field." 

Then, in the time of Henry VI. (1426), it 
seems that a gentleman who rejoiced in the 
name of John Foxhole, clerk, was in possession, 
and that he passed the manors of "Wellhawe 
and Esthorne" on to another who possessed the 
name of William Basket, a skinner and citizen 
of London. 

Two years later, in 1426, this William Basket 
conveyed the manors to Robert Myrfyn, "in 

behalf of John Tattersall, Henry Chioele, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, Thomas Chioele, his 
nephew, Archdeacon of Canterbury, and 

The Kentish historian, Hasted, relying upon 
the statements of Philipott as accurate, statea 
that Wellhawe, Easthorne, and Woolwich were 
"the possessions of William Chicele, Sheriff of 
I/ondon, brother of Archbishop Chicele, Cham- 
berlain of London and grocer, one of whose 
daughters, Agnes, carried them in marriage to 
her husband, John Tattersall." 

But according to the records of an inquisition 
taken at Deptford, 30th June, 1447, in the 
twenty-fifth year of the reign of Henry VI., it 
would appear that both Philipott and Hasted 
are in error, and that William Chicele, the 
Sheriff of London, brother of the Archbishop, 
was not the Lord of Wellhawe Manor. 

The King (Henry VI.), by his charter dated 
at Eltham, 3rd February, 1439, granted the 
manors to " John Tattereall and the said Henry 
Chicele (Archbishop), Thomas Chicele (Arch- 
deacon), John Brykhed, Richard Sturgen, and 
William Myrfyn, and the heirs and assigns of 
John Tattersall and Henry (Archbishop), &c." 

The Inquisition record then says : 

"The said John Tattersall and Henry died, 
when Thomas Chicele and others stood seised of 
the same, worth 20 marcs a year beyond reprises, 
and is held of the King in socage as of his 
manor of Eltham by service of 73s. 4d. a year. 

"And the jury say that the said John Tatter- 
sall and Agnes his wife, daughter of John 
Chicele of London, grocer, were seised in their 
demesne as of fee, in the day John died, of the 
manor of Woolwych, with appurts, in the villa 
of Woolwych, Greenwych, Derteford, and 
Combe, Kent, as appears by a certain deed 
dated at Woolwych, 7 August, 14 Henry VI., 
1436, made to the said John and Agnes Tatter- 
eall and their heirs and assigns for ever; and 
the said John died, and Agnes remained seised 
of, and now holds, the said manor (worth 10> 
marcs beyond reprises) of the King in socage aa 
of the manor of Eltham, by service of 36s. per 

Agnes, the widow of John Tattersall, subse- 



quently married William Kene, the Sheriff of 
Kent, 26 Henry VI., who resided at Well Hall. 

By her first husband, Agnes had a son and 
two daughters. There does not appear to be 
any record of what became of the son, but one 
of the daughters, Margery, married John Koper, 
of Swaeliffe, in the county of Kent. By this 
marriage the Manors of Well Hall and East- 
home came into the possession of the Eopers. 

This distinguished family was closely 
associated with Eltham history for some two 
hundred years, and though the Well Hall estate 
passed from them when it was sold to Sir 
Gregory Page in 1733, the name is still preserved 
by a Roper Charity, and the name of the street 
which leads to our National School, while their 
memory is one of the cherished possessions of 
our village history. 

The second John Roper, who was the eldest 
son of the heiress of John Tattersall, was 
Sheriff of Kent in the 12th year of Henry VIII., 
Attorney-General and Prothonotary of the 
King's Bench. 

William Roper, his eldest son, was a very 
distinguished man. He succeeded his father as 
Prothonotary, and was also Sheriff of the 
county in the reign of Queen Mary. He married 
.Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas More, 
Lord High Chancellor of England, who was 
executed by the barbarous order of Henry VIII. 
Sir William Roper died in 1577, aged 82 years, 
and was buried in the vault under the chapel 
joining the chancel in St. Dunstan's Church, 

Thomas Roper, the eldest son of Sir William, 
succeeded to the Well Hall and Easthorne 

estates, and also to the office of Prothonotary of 
the King's Bench. 

The estates were held in succession by Wil- 
liam Roper, Anthony Roper, and Edward 

The latter had one son, who died in infancy, 
and three daughters, who succeeded jointly to 
the estates. 

On July llth, 1733, the three co-heiresses 
" joined in the sale of the manors of Easthorne 
and Well Hall, with the house recently erected 
and the presentation of the vicarage, to Sir 
Gregory Page, of Wrickleoiarsh in Charlton, 
Bart., for ,19,000, who pulled down the mansion 
of Well Hall." From Sir Gregory Page it 
descended to his nephew, Sir Gregory Turner. 

The famous picture of the More family, 
painted by Holbein, used to hang in the great 
hall of the mansion, where it almost covered 
one of the walls. It had hung there ever since 
it had been painted, but was removed to Soho- 
square, to the house of Sir Rowland Wynne, 
the husband of Susanna Roper, one of the three 
heiresses, in July, 1731, a short time before th 
estates were sold. 

The Ropers were conscientious Papists, who 
suffered for their faith. Sir William Roper 
the husband of Margaret More, was bound to 
be of good behaviour, and had to appear before 
the Council when called upon (State Papers 

Philip Roper, the grandson of Sir William, 
was under surveillance for harbouring Papists 
at Eltham and for consorting with priests 
(State Papers Domestic). 



The story of Eltham Palace recalls many a 
royal lady and many a noble dame who have 
figured prominently in national history; but 
few of them hare set a worthier example, or 
deserved a more honourable place upon the roll 
of noble women than Margaret Roper, the wife 
of Sir William Eoper, who for upwards of forty 
years was the doughty squire of Well Hall. 

We are tempted to linger over the story of 
this remarkable woman, for by her marriage 
she not only became a woman of Eltham, but 
her story also embraces that of a distinguished 
and godly man, who knew Eltham Palace well, 
and who probably resided at the Chancellor's 
Lodging in the court-yard when his duties to 
the King called him here. 

Moreover, much of the information regarding 
Dame Roper and her father, Sir Thomas More, 
we get from a book actually written at Well 
Hall by Sir William Roper himself 

So this story of a noble woman, of filial 
devotion, unexampled, and of direful tragedy, 
is a matter of threefold interest to all those 
who take pride in our village history. 

The painter, Holbein, has portrayed on 
canvas the " Family of Sir Thomas More," and 
from Erasmus onward many a writer has 
delighted to describe the domestic virtues and 
homely life of that distinguished household. 

The following is a word picture, written some 
sixty years ago by Mrs. Owen, of the home where 
the bountiful Lady of Well Hall spent her girl- 

"It is at Chelsea, hard by the river, where 
the extensive and beautiful gardens reach down 
to the water's edge. Looking across the 

terrace, where the two favourite peacocks, 
Juno and Argus, perched upon the balustrades, 
unfold their burnished glories, is the pavilion 
in which Erasmus would sit in converse with 
his learned and illustrious friend. Those are 
the windows of the " Academia," shaded by 
their cool green curtains. Glancing within, we 
find three or four fair maidens bending over 
their desks, some writing, some reading, all 
with an air of pleasant earnestness. Then 
comes the chapel; and there, far above, one 
may see the observatory, whither royalty itself 
oftimes ascends to watch the stare, and dis- 
course upon their nature, with the sire of that 
gentle sisterhood, the master of that happy 

"Like a series of dissolving views, rises be- 
fore us scene after scene of that 'eventful 
history.' Yonder, upon the bosom of the 
' cleare shining Thames ' barges pass and re- 
pass, filled with glittering company. Anon, 
heralded by a flock of swans, which come 
breasting the water, a wherry lands three per- 
sons Sir Thomas and the ' deare little man ' 
Erasmus, together with a tall stripling, who 
carries the cloak of the former. To meet them, 
there issues from the house a fair girl, whom 
we presently know for the favourite child, the 
'best beloved Meg,' and she kisses the hands of 
the elders, and laughs and blushes when the 
tall lad, an old playmate long absent, no other 
than Will Roper himself, makes as if he would 
perform the same ceremony with her soft cheek, 
only he has no courage; whereat Sir Thoma 
laughs, and cries, apropos of his two ineffectual 
attempts, that 'the third time's lucky.' 

" Presently, it is in the hay field, we see the 




father and hie children, where the summer sun 
is lying in slanting evening rays along the 
fragrant rows. There the laughing girls pursue 
the liveliest pastimes of youthful innocence. 
They swathe him, not a whit lees merry, in 
ropes made of the hay; but when at length, in 
soberer mood, he reclines at full length amongst 
it, it is upon Margaret's knee his head rests, it 
ia to Margaret's ear he addresses, with closed 
eyes, the expression of his thoughtful dreaming 
of 'that far-off, future day, Meg, when thou 
and I shall looke back on this hour, and this 
hay field, and my head on thy lap.' 

" Now, a less bright vision. The favourite 
child struck down by disease, we see the father 
watching at her bedside, or praying with 
almost frantic hope, for her restoration to 
health. In his agony words escape which ehew 
how dearer than child ever can be to him 
again is that slight suffering form. If she- 
die, he says with solemnity, for her sake he 
will abjure the world, its honours, its 
triumphs, for evermore. 

" Pass on. The invalid comes forth to breathe- 
the healthful air. Colour steals back to her 
cheek, the lustre to her eye. Guests arrive, 
among them the two maiden aunts, the ' lay 
nuns'; and it is pleasant to see that these, who 
have parted for ever with the youthful wreath 
of rose and passion flower, can yet smile with 
joy to see the garlands turned around the 
bright heads of their sister's children. 

"But in a little time another visitor is seen; 
a large man, with a fair, handsome counten- 
ance, and reddish gold hair. He walks with his 
arm around the neck of the Chancellor, ' for an 
hour or soe,' the latter addressing him by the 
title, just then coming into ordinary use for 
the first time, ' your Majesty.' 

"Years pass by. Now we have an artist, 
painting in a cool, sequestered chamber, where 
all the light is excluded, excepting that which 
falls downward upon his work. It is Hans Hol- 
bein. At his side sits the same gentle form 
which has so often greeted us, lees sylph-like in 
ite proportions than of old, and with a graver, 
yet a deeper happiness, lying in the luminous 
depths of her beautiful eyes. 

" Sometimes the ' tall stripling 'stripling no 
longer is there, too. Then her cheek is 
brighter still, her accents tenderer, while, ever 
and anon, flashes of the old playfulness break 
out, alike in father and daughter, for a fair- 
haired boy nestles in her arms, who plays with 
the painter's colours, and climbs his knee to 
see if the picture is like ' grandfather.' 

" But Hans Holbein and his easel fade away, 
and it seems as if a cloud were hanging between 
the sun and that once cheery house, for all the 
children's smiles and merry singing voices that 
fill it now. There is an air of gloom strangely 
pervading that cool, flower-studded garden. In 
the pavilion sits Margaret, alone and in tears, 
trying to decipher a scarcely legible letter, 
which seems, as indeed it is, written with a 
clumsy substitute for ink, a morsel of coal a 
letter which dates its mission from a prison!" 

Such are some of the scenes of the earlier life 
of the Lady of Well Hall. Margaret More was 
the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas More, the 
great lawyer and brilliant scholar, who be- 
came the Lord Chancellor of Henry VIII., and 
subsequently suffered death by the command of 
the King. She had two sisters, Elizabeth and 
Cecilia, and a brother, John, who does not 
seem to have been particularly brilliant. 

Of the trio of sisters, Margaret seems to have 
possessed at once the superior talente and the 
most attractive manners. " She was," says her 
biographer, "to Sir Thomas More what Tullia 
was to Cicero his delight and comfort." 

She became proficient in Latin and Greek at 
quite an early age, qualifying herself, if not 
for a sharer in her father's studies, at least, for 
an intelligent companion. She wrote Latin 
prose and verse with an ease that surprised the 
scholars of the day, and none more so than Car- 
dinal Pole and Erasmus. It is said that on one 
occasion she wrote two declamations in English, 
which her father, by way of exercise, proposed 
that she should turn into Latin. He made a 
translation at the same time, and when com- 
paring his own with that of his daughter, it 
was found to be difficult to determine which 
was the most elegant version. 

The patriarchal simplicity of More's house- 



hold is vividly described by Erasmus in a 
letter to a friend. 

" More," he writes, " has built, near London, 
on the banks of the Thames, a commodious 
house, where he converses affably with his 
family, consisting of his wife, his son. and 
daughter-in-law, his three daughters and their 
husbands, and eleven grandchildren. There is 
no man living so fond of his children, or who 

constant associates of his daughters were 
Erasmus, Colet, Linacre, Latimer, Lily, Pole, 
Fisher, and other great scholars and divines. 
But Erasmus seems to have been the most 
highly valued of them all. In several of his 
letters to Margaret, we find him praising her 
as a woman, famous not only for piety and 
virtue, but for true and solid learning. He 
was pleased to call her " Britannia Decus " 


(Hollar's Theatrum Mulierum). 


(Speed's map of England). 


(Hollar's Orratus Muliebns 1640). 

possesses a more excellent temper. You would 
call his house the Academy of Plato. But 1 
should rather do it an injury by such a com- 
parison. It is rather a school of Christiaa 
goodness, in which piety, virtue, and the liberal 
sciences are studied by every individual of the 
family. No wrangling or intemperate language 
is heard, no one is idle, the discipline of the 
house is courtesy and benevolence, and everyone 
performs his duties with cheerfulness and 

Among the intimate friends of More and the 

the Honour of Britain a compliment which, 
coming from him, she must have highly valued. 

But it is mainly on account of her intense 
filial devotion that the memory of Margaret 
Roper is kept so green. And that phase of her 
character seems to have been inherited. Sir 
Thomas himself, at the time Lord Chancellor 
of England, used to stop every morning on his 
way to Westminster, to enter the King's Bench, 
where his father was judge, and there kneel 
and ask the old man's blessing before going to 
sit in Chancery. 



This attribute of strong filial love existed in 
a marked degree with every member of the 
More family, but it seems to have shone most 
brilliantly in the eldest child, Margaret, and 
was, in fact, the main-spring of her character. 

She was in her nineteenth year when she fell 
a victim to the "sweating sickness," a foul 
disease, which was almost like a plague, and 
terrified even the King himself. Sir William 
Koper, in the book we have alluded to, "The 
Mirror of Vertue in worldly Greatness, or the 
Life of Sir Thomas More, Knight," gives an 
account of thie circumstance, which throws a 
vivid light upon the household at Chelsea 
during those dark days of trouble. 

"At such a time," he writes, "my wife (aa 
many other that year were) was sick of the 
sweating sickness, who, lying in so great ex- 
tremity of that disease, as by no invention or 
devices that physicians in such cases commonly 
use (of whom she had divers, both expert, wise, 
and well-learned, then continually attendaut 
upon her) could she be kept from sleep, eo that 
both the physicians and all other there present 
despaired of her recovery, and gave her over; 
her father, as he that most entirely attended 
her, being in no small heaviness for her, by 
prayer at God's hand sought to get her remedy. 

Whereupon going up, after his usual manner, 
into his aforesaid New Building there in his 
chapel on his knees, with tears, most devoutly 
besought Almighty God that it would like His 
goodness, unto whom nothing was impossible, 
if it were his blessed will, at his mediation, to 
vouchsafe graciously to hear his humble 

Where incontinent came into his mind that a 
glister should be the only way to help her. 
Which, when he told the physicians, they by 
and by confessed that if there were any hope 
of health that that was the very best help 
indeed, much marvelling of themselves that 
they had not remembered it. 

Then was it immediately administered t-> 
her sleeping, which she could by no means have 
been brought into waking. And albeit, after 
she was thereby thoroughly waked, God's marks 
(an evident, undoubted token of death) plainly 
appeared upon her, yet she, contrary to all 
their expectations, was, as it was thought, by 
her father's most fervent prayers, miraculously 
recovered, and at length again to perfect health 
restored; whom, if it pleased God at that time 
to have taken to His mercy, her father said he 
would never have meddled with worldly 
matters more." 



It was shortly after her recovery from the 
dangerous illness which had caused so much 
alarm to Sir Thomas More that Margaret was 
married, in her twentieth year, to the lanky 
young lawyer, Will Roper, of Well Hall. Her 
two sisters, Elizabeth and Cecilia, married 
about the game time, as also did Margaret 
Middleton, the daughter by a former husband 
of Sir Thomas More's second wife. 

A singular and interesting feature of these 
marriages is that the young people continued 
to live in the paternal household. 

"All lived with Sir Thomas, at Chelsea; nor 
did the new ties they had formed abate an 
iota of the devotion to him by his entire family. 
Besides these there was a poor relation of the 
More family, brought up from a child among 
them, another Margaret married several years 
after to their tutor, Dr. John Clement." 

It was in this way that this united and 
loving family lived happily together under 
their patriarchal head. 

But the peaceful calm which reigned over 
this Chelsea household was soon to be dispelled. 
Cardinal Wolsey had fallen into disgrace with 
the fickle King, and Henry VIII now turned 
to Sir Thomas More, who most reluctantly 
was persuaded to accept the high office of 
Lord Chancellor. His penetration and fore- 
sight, no doubt, revealed to his mind the 
dangers to himself which the dignity entailed. 

The honour thus " thrust upon the unwilling 
shoulders" of her father deprived Margaret 
in a great measure of the teaching and com- 
panionship which were so precious to her. Her 
children, dear as they were, afforded no sub- 

stitute for the loss of the one who was equally 
missed by her husband and herself. During 
these trying days, the courageous endurance 
of this noble-hearted woman was doubtless 
called into hourly action. The mind of the 
father was oppressed by business or distracted 
by the responsibilities of power Margaret 
Roper, who, more than any other, was his 
confidant, must have suffered many anxious 
moments, for it was no difficult matter to fore- 
shadow the end to which the King's policy 
must ultimately lead. The new Queen Anne 
Boleyn had already compassed the downfall 
of Wolsey, and, unhappily, she was to be the 
means of bringing about the destruction of 

Sir Thomas was too sincere for a courtier, 
preferring integrity to place. The Chancellor, 
after expressing his disapproval of the King's 
conduct in divorcing Queen Catherine, de- 
clared his intention of resigning the Chan- 
cellorship. Henry resisted this action of his 
Chancellor for a while, but More, urging that 
he was growing old, and had need of repose, 
prevailed at last, and retired from Court in 
the May of the year 1532, " withdrawing to the 
quiet home he had long sighed for, and to the 
daughter who was its chief ornament and his 
purest consolation." 

The household now, however, was confronted 
by financial difficulties. Sir Thomas, who had 
hitherto been a liberal patron, found that he 
could no longer support the heavy outlay of 
his home establishment. Living under the 
same roof, and in the midst of his family, the 
expenses of which he had hitherto defrayed 
from his revenue, the ex-Chancellor and 



devoted father, would not hear of a separation 
from them. 

"Calling us all, that were his children, unto 
him, " writes Sir William Koper, " and asking 
our advice how we might now in this decay 
of his ability, by the surrender of his office 
so impaired, that he could not as he was wont, 
and gladly would, bear out the whole charges 
of them all himself, from thenceforth be able 
to live and continue together, as he wished we 
should, when he saw us silent, and in that case 
not ready to show our opinions unto him, 

"Then will I,' said he, 'shew my poor mind 
to you. I have been brought up,' quoth he, ' at 
Oxford, at an Inn of the Chancery, at Lincoln's 
Inn, and also in the King's Court, and so forth 
from the lowest degree to the highest, and yet 
have I in yearly revenues at this present left 
me little above a hundred pounds by the year. 
So that now we must hereafter, if we like to 
live together, be content to become contribu- 
taries together. 

' But by my counsel it shall not be best 
to fall to the lowest fare first; we will not, 
therefore, descend to this Oxford fare, nor to 
the fare of New Inn, but we will begin with 
Lincoln's Inn diet, where many right-worship- 
ful and of good years do live full well. 

'Which, if we find not ourselves the first 
year able to maintain, then we will the next 
year go one step down to New Inn fare, where- 
with many an honest man is well contented. 

' If that exceed our ability, too, then will 
we, the next year after, descend to Oxford fare, 
where many grave, learned and ancient fathers 
be continually conversant. 

' Which, if our ability stretch not to main- 
tain neither, then may we yet, with bags and 
wallets, go a-begging together, and hoping that 
for pity some good folk will give us their 
charity, at every man's door to sing Salve 
Regina, and so still keep company and be 
merry together.' " 

This was a sad year for the More family. 
Old Sir John More, the grandfather of Mar- 
garet Eoper, and one deeply loved by the whole 
circle of this united family, died. Then, after 
a brief interval, came the warning to Sir 

Thomas from some of his friends, that his re- 
fusal to take the Oath of Supremacy would 
lead him into trouble. The trouble came 

The ex-Chancellor was sent to the Tower as 
a means of forcing him into the concession the 
King wanted. "When the King saw that he 
could by no manner of benefit win kirn to his 
side then lo, went he about by terror and 
threats to drive him thereunto." 

Writing of the severance from the old home, 
Mrs. Owen says : " He was sent to the Tower 
as a means of forcing him into the required 
concession. We can form a faint idea, from the 
attachment already depicted between the 
parties, of the agony of this separation. It 
was in the lovely spring-time, when every- 
thing in Nature teemed with promise, that the 
dark cloud fell upon that house; the bright 
face, which had been the source of sunshine 
throughout it, was withdrawn, and the idolised 
parent dragged away, never to be again re- 

" Twelve weary months Sir Thomas lay in 
prison twelve weary months his eldest and 
best beloved child wore out a burdensome 
existence of suspense and pain. It will be 
scarcely supposed that Margaret would relax 
her efforts to obtain an interview with the 
prisoner until that object had been accom- 
plished; and, at length, in consequence of in- 
cessant importunity, she prevailed. Poignant 
had been her grief, but upon admission to 
his prison she was shocked yet more deeply by 
the discovery of the state of destitution to 
which the royal tyrant had consigned his for- 
mer favourite." 

Let us now read another short selection from 
the unique little book written at Well Hall 
by Sir William Roper. It reveals to us the sad 
spectacle of this good man in prison in close 
communion with his beloved daughter, our Lady 
of Well Hall. 

" Now when he had remained in the Tower 
little more than a month, my wife, longing 
to see her father, by her earnest suit, at length 
got leave to go unto him. 

"At whose coming, after the seven psalms 
and litany said which whensoever she 



came to him, ere he fell in talk of any worldly 
matters, he used accustomedly to say with her 
among other communications he said un- 
to her.' 

" 'I believe Megg, that they that have put me 
here ween that they have done me a high dis- 
pleasure; but I assure thee on my faith, mine 
own good daughter, if it had not been for my 
wife and ye that be my children, whom I 
account the chief part of my charge, I would 
not have failed long ere this to have closed 
myself in as straight a room, and straighter, 

" 'But since I am come hither without mine 
own desert, I trust that God of His goodness 
will discharge me of my care, and with His 
gracious help supply my lack among you. I 
find no cause, I thank God, Megg, to reckon 
myself in worse case here than in mine own 
house, for methinketh God maketh me a 
wanton, and setteth me on His lap and dandleth 

" 'Thus, by his gracious demeanour in tribu- 
lation, appeared it that all the trouble that 
ever chanced unto him, by his patient suffer- 
ance thereof, were to him no painful punish- 
ments, but of his patience profitable exercises. 
And at another time, when he had first ques- 
tioned with my wife a while of the order of 
his wife, children, and state of his house in his 
absence, he asked her how Queen Anne did. 

' In faith, Father,' quoth she, ' never better.' 

' Never better, Megg ! ' quoth he, ' Alas ! 
Megg, alas ! It pitieth me to remember into what 
misery, poor soul, she will shortly come ! " 

Many efforts were made to induce Sir Thomas 
to change his mind as to the oath of supremacy, 
not only by his friends, but by Margaret her- 
self, who urged him to do as she herself had 
done, namely, to take the oath with the reser- 
vation, " as far as would stand with the law 
of God." 

Arguments, entreaties, and even tears failed, 
however, to shake the determination and con- 
stancy of the prisoner. 

" I may tell thee, Megg," he said after one 
of these encounters, " they that have com- 
mitted me hither for the refusing of this oath, 

not agreeable with the statute, are not by their 
own law able to justify mine imprisonment; 
and surely, daughter, is great pity that any 
Christian prince should by a flexible council 
ready to follow his affections, and by a weak 
clergy lacking grace constantly to stand to 
their learning, with flattery, be so shamefully 

Another incident, recorded by Sir William, 
shews upon what flimsy evidence the charge 
of high treason was trumped up against this 
good man. He writes : 

" Not long after came to him the Lord Chan- 
cellor, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, with 
Master Secretary, and certain other of the 
Privy Council, at two several times by all 
policies possible procuring him either to con- 
fess to the supremacy, or precisely to deny it, 
whereunto, as appeareth by his examinations 
in the said great book, they could never bring 

Shortly thereupon Master Rich, afterwards 
Lord Rich, the newly-made the King's solicitor, 
Sir Richard Southwell, and one Master Palmer, 
servant to the Secretary, were sent to Sir 
Thomas More into the Tower to fetch away his 
books from him. 

And while Sir Richard Southwell and Mr. 
Palmer were busy in the trussing up of his 
books, Mr. Rich, pretending friendly talk with 
him, among other things of a set course, as 
it seemed, said thus unto him. 

' Forasmuch as it is well known, Master 
More, that you are a man both wise and well 
learned as well in the laws of the realm as 
otherwise, I pray you therefore, Sir, let me 
be so bold, as of good will, to put unto you 
this case. Admit there were, Sir, an Act of 
Parliament that the realm should take me for 
king, would not you, Master More, take me for 

' Yes, Sir,' quoth Sir Thomas More, ' that 
would I.' 

' I put the case further,' quoth Master Rich, 
' that there were an Act of Parliament that 
all the realm should take me for Pope, would 
not you then, Master More, take me for Pope?' 

' For answer, Sir,' quoth Sir Thomas More, 



'to your first case, the Parliament may well, 
Master Rich, meddle with the state of temporal 
princes, but to make answer to your other case, 
I will put you this case: Suppose the Parlia- 
ment should make a law that God should not 
be God, would you then, Master Eich, say that 
God were not God?" 

' No, Sir,' quoth he, ' that would I not, sith 
no Parliament may make any such law.' 

' No more,' said Sir Thomas More as Master 
Rich reported him ' could the Parliament 
make the King supreme head of the Church.' 

Upon whose only report was Sir Thomas 
More indicted of high treason on the Statute 
to deny the King to be supreme head of the 
Church, into which indictment were put these 
heinous words, maliciously, traitorously, dia- 




The trial of Sir Thomas More took place in 
due course at the Court at Westminster, where 
he had been wont himself to preside as judge, 
and mainly upon the evideuee of Master Rich, 
to whom we alluded in the preceding chapter, 
he was declared to be guilty of high treason 
upon an indictment which contained the odioug 
terms, maliciously, traitorously, and dia- 

Sir William Roper devotes several chapters 
of his book to this remarkable trial, which 
was little better than a travesty of justice, 
and led to an act which is one of the blackest 
stains upon our national history. 

The final scene of the trial, and the inci- 
dent in which our Heroine was so conspicuous 
a figure, are thus described by the Squire of 
Well Hall : 

Now when Sir Thomas More, for the avoid- 
ing of the indictment had taken as many ex- 
ceptions as he thought meet, and many more 
reasons than I can now remember alleged, the 
Lord Chancellor loth to have the burden of the 
judgment wholly to depend upon himself, there 
openly asked the advice of Lord Fitz James, 
then Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, 
and joined in the Commission with him, 
whether this indictme&t were sufficient or not. 

Who, like a wise man answered, 
" My Lords all, by St. Julian " (that was 
ever his oath), " I must needs confess that if 
the Act of Parliament be not unlawful, then 
is the indictment in my conscience not in- 

Whereupon the Lord Chancellor said to the 
rest of the Lords : 

" Lo, my Lords, lo ! You hear what my Lord 
Chief Justice saith," and so immediately gave 
judgment against him. 

After which ended, the Commissioners yet 
further courteously offered him, if he had any- 
thing else to allege for his defence, to grant 
him favourable audience. 

Who answered : 

" More have I not to say, my Lords, but that 
like the blessed Apostle, St. Paul, as we read 
in the Acts of the Apostles, was present, and 
consented to the death of St. Stephen, and kept 
their clothes that stoned him to death, and 
yet be they now both twain holy saints in 
heaven, and shall continue there friends for 
ever, so I verily trust, and shall therefore 
right heartily pray, that though your Lord- 
ships have now here in earth been judgee to 
my condemnation, we may yet hereafter in 
heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting 

Thus much touching Sir Thomas More's 
arraignment, being not there present myself, 
have I by the creditable report of the Right 
Worshipful Sir Anthony Saintleger, and partly 
of Richard Haywood, and John Webb, gentle- 
men, with others of good credit at the hearing 
thereof present themselves, as far forth as 
my poor wit and memory would serve me, here 
truly rehearsed unto you. 

Now, after his arraignment, departed he 
from the bar to the Tower again, led by Sir 
William Kingston, a tall, strong and comely 
knight, Constable of the Tower, and his very 
dear friend. 

Who, when he had brought him from West- 



minster to the Old Swan toward the Tower, 
there, with a heavy heart, the tears running 
down his cheeks, bade him farewell. 

Sir Thomas More seeing him so sorrowful 
comforted him with as good words as he could, 
saying : 

"Good Master Kingston, trouble not your- 
self, but be of good cheer; for I will pray for 
you and for your good lady, your wife, that 
we may meet in heaven together, where we 
shall be merry for ever and ever." 

Soon after Sir William Kingston, talking 
with me of Sir Thomas More, said : 

" In good faith, Master Roper, I was ashamed 
of myself that at my departing from your 
father I found my heart so feeble and his 
so strong, that he was fain to comfort me that 
should rather have comforted him." 

When Sir Thomas More came from West- 
minster Tower-ward again, his daughter, my 
wife, desirous to see her father, whom ehe 
thought she would never see in this world 
after, and also to have his final blessing, gave 
attendance about the Tower Wharf, when she 
knew he would pass by, before he could enter 
into the Tower. There tarrying his coming, as 
soon as she saw him, after his blessing upon 
her knees reverently received, she hasting to- 
wards him, without consideration or care for 
herself, pressing in amongst the midst of the 
throng and company of the guard, that with 
halberds and bills went about him, hastily ran 
to him, and there openly in sight of them all, 
embraced him, and took him about the neck 
and kissed him. 

Who, well liking her most natural and dear 
daughterly affection towards him, gave her his 
fatherly blessing, and many godly words of 
comfort besides. 

From whom after she was departed, she, not 
satisfied with the former sight of her dear 
father, and like one that had forgotten herself, 
being all ravished with the entire love of her 
dear father, having respect neither of herself, 
nor to the press of people and multitude that 
were about him, suddenly turned back again, 
ran to him as before, took him about the 
neck, and divers times kissed him most lov- 

ingly; and at last, with a full and heavy heart, 
was fain to depart from him ; the beholding 
whereof was to many of them that were present 
thereat so lamentable that it made them for 
very sorrow thereof to weep and mourn. 

Another writer, commenting upon this sad 
journey of Sir Thomas More, tells us that 
"As he moved from the bar, his son rushed 
through the hall, fell upon his knees, and 
begged his blessing." 

The same writer, giving another version of 
the touching interview with Margaret says 
that upon reaching the Tower Wharf, his 
" dear daughter, Margaret Roper, forced her 
way through the officers and halberdiers that 
surrounded him, clasped him round the neck, 
and sobbed aloud. Sir Thomas consoled her, 
and she collected sufficient power to bid him 
farewell for ever; but as her father moved 
on she again rushed through the crowds, 
and threw herself upon his neck. Here the 
weakness of nature overcame him, and he wept 
as he repeated his blessing and again uttered 
his Christian consolation. The people wept 
too; and his guards were so much affected that 
they could hardly summon up resolution to 
separate the father and daughter." 

There was confined in the Tower at the 
same time as Sir Thomas More a close and 
dear friend of the ex-Chancellor, a learned 
and godly man, who, moreover, is said to have 
been, on occasion, a visitor at Well Hall, pro- 
bably in the days of Mr. John Eoper, the 
father of Sir William. 

This good man was Fisher, the Bishop of 
Rochester, who was imprisoned for the same 
offence as Sir Thomas, and had endured im- 
prisonment for about the same length of time. 

Bishop Fisher's case, was, in one sense, even 
more distressing than, that of More. He was 
an aged man, between 70 and 80 years old. 
His sufferings were pretty much those of Sir 
Thomas More's, as we may judge from a letter 
written by the Bishop, from his prison in the 
"Bell Tower," to Thomas Cromwell. He 
writes : 

" Furthermore, I beseech you to be good 
master in my necessity; for I have neither 



shirt nor suit, nor yet other clothes that are 
neceeary for me to wear, but that be ragged 
and rent too shamefully. Notwithstanding, I 
might easily suffer that, if they would keep 
my body warm. But my diet also, God knoweth 
how slender it is at many times. And now in 
mine age, my stomach may not away with but 
a few kinds of meats, which, if I want, I decay 

Fisher was executed on the 22nd of June, 
and there is a picture in the National Gallery 
showing Sir Thomas More and his daughter, 
Margaret Roper, standing in the gloomy prison 
cell, looking through the lattice window at the 
procession of the Bishop to execution. 

Among the notable relics of Sir Thomas More 
are the eloquent and touching letters that 
passed between himself and his daughter, while 
he was in the Tower. He was deprived of writing 
materials, but bits of charcoal and paper were 
left about by his considerate keepers, and at 
least two of these letters were written by 
means of such clumsy materials. 

We will conclude this chapter with a tran- 
scription of the last of this series of letters, 
the last, indeed, that Sir Thomas ever wrote, 
for it was written the day before his execution. 
It is reproduced exactly as it appears in Sir 
William Roper's book. 

Sir THOMAS MORE was beheaded at the Tower- 
hill in LONDON, on TUESDAY, the sixth day of 
July, in the year of our Lord, 1535, and in the 
xxvii. year of the Reign of King HENRY vin. 
And on the day next before, being MONDAY, and 
the fifth day of JBLY, he wrote with a coal a 
letter to his daughter Mistress KOPEB, and sent 
it to her (which wa> the last thing that 
ever he wrote), the copy whereof here followeth. 

Our Lord bless you, good daughter, and your 
good husband, and your little boy, and all 
yours, and all my children, and all my god- 
children and all our friends. Remember me, 

when ye may to my good daughter Cicily, whom 
I beseech our Lord to comfort. And I send 
her my blessing, and to all her children, and 
pray her to pray for me. I send her an 
handkerchief; and God comfort my good son 
her husband. My good daughter Dance hath the 
picture in parchment, that you delivered me 
from my Lady Corners, her name is on the 
backside. Show her that I heartily pray her 
that you may send it in my name to her again, 
for a token from me to pray for me. I like 
special well Dorothy Coly, I pray you be good 
unto her. I would wit whether this be she 
that you wrote me of. If not, yet I pray you 
to be good to the other, as you may in her 
affliction, and to my god-daughter, Joan 
Aleyn, too. Give her, I pray you, some kind 
answer, for she sued hither to me this day to 
pray you be good to her. I cumber you, good 
Margaret, much, but I would be sorry if it 
should be any longer than to-morrow. For it 
is Saint Thomas' Eve, and the Utas of Saint 
Peter; and therefore to-morrow long I to go 
to God ; it were a day very meet and convenient 
for me. I never liked your manner toward me 
better than when you kissed me last; for I 
love when daughterly love and dear charity 
hath no desire to look to worldly courtesy. 
Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, 
and I shall for you and all your friends, that 
we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you 
for your great cost. I send now to my good 
daughter Clement her aglorism stone, and I 
send her, and my godson, and all her's God's 
blessing and mine. I pray you, at time con- 
venient, recommend me to my good son John 
More, I liked well his natural fashion. Our 
Lord bless him and his good wife my loving 
daughter, to whom I pray him to be good as he 
hath great cause; and that if the land of mine 
come to his hand, he break not my will concern- 
ing his sister Dance. And our Lord bless 
Thomas and Austen and all that they shall 



Not long before the day of execution Margaret 
Roper visited her father at the Tower. He in- 
quired after the welfare of the Queen, Anne 
Boleyn, who, indirectly, was the author of hie 
misfortunes. Margaret replied that the Queen 
had never been better. Nothing was thought 
of at Court but music and sporting. 

"Never better, you say, Meg?" he replied, 
sadly. "Alas! it pitieth me to think into what 
misery, poor eoul, she will shortly come. These 
dances of hers will prove such dances as with 
them she will spurn our heads off like footballs; 
but it will not be long ere her head will dance 
the same dance." 

A message was brought to him that through 
the King's "clemency" his sentence was com- 
muted from " hanging, drawing and quarter- 
ing" to simple decapitation; to which he 

" God preserve all my friends from such royal 

One request only did he make, and this again 
had reference to her, the lady of Well Hall, 
who, ever since the death of her mother, seems 
to have been for him the most valuable posses- 
sion, and the dearest consolation the world 

" Let Margaret be allowed the liberty of being 
present," he pleaded. " Permit my child's eyes 
to see the last of her father." 

The last scene in the great tragedy is thus 
described by Sir William Roper: 

So remained Sir Thomas More in the Tower 
more than a seven night after his judgment. 

From whence, the day before he suffered, he 
sent his shirt of hair, not willing to hare it 
seen, to my wife, his dearly beloved daughter, 
and a letter written with a coal plainly express- 
ing the fervent desire he had to suffer oil the 

And so upon the next morrow, being Tuesday, 
Saint Thomas his eve, and the Utas of Saint 
Peter, in the year of our Lord 1535, according as 
he in his letter the day before had wished, early 
in the morning came to him Sir Thomas Pope, 
his singular good friend, on message from the 
King and his Council, that he should before 
nine of the clock of the same morning suffer 
death; and that, therefore, he should forthwith 
prepare himself thereto. 

"Master Pope," quoth Sir Thomas More, 
"for your good tidings I heartily thank you. 
I have been always mnch bounden to the King's 
highness for the benefits and honours that he 
had still from time to time most bountifully 
heaped upon me; and yet more bounden am I to 
his grace for putting me into this place, where 
I have had convenient time and space to have 
remembrance of my end. And so help me God, 
most of all. Master Pope, am I bonnden to his 
highness that it pleaeeth him 90 shortly to rid 
me out of the miseries of this wretched world, 
and therefore will I not fail earnestly to pray 
for his grace, both here, and in the world to 

"The King's pleasure is farther," quoth 
Master Pope, " that at your execution you shall 
not use many words." 

" Master Pope," quoth he, " yon do well to 

3 -a 



S I 


p ,i s 

^ x ;' 

(u ^ 






No. 136. 


He re-built the West Front of the Palace. 
(By permission of Messrs. Macmillan) 

No. 1.57. 


(See text). 

No. 138. 


A visitor at Eltham Palace. 
(See text). 

No. 139, 


Had rooms at Eltham Palace. 
(See text). 



give me warning of his grace's pleasure, for 
otherwise, at that time, had I purposed to have 
spoken; but of no matter wherewith his grace, 
or any other, should have had cause to be 
offended. Nevertheless, whatsoever I intended, 
I am ready obediently to conform myself to his 
grace's commandment; and I beseech you, good 
Master Pope to be a mean to his highness that 
my daughter Margaret may be at my burial." 

"The King is content already," quoth Master 
Pope, "that your wife, children and other 
friends shall have liberty to be present 

" Oh, how much beholden then," said Sir 
Thomas More, "am I unto his grace, that unto 
my poor burial he vouohsafeth to have so 
gracious consideration." 

Wherewithal, Master Pope, taking hie leave 
of him, could not refrain from weeping; which 
Sir Thomas More perceiving, comforted him in 
this wise: 

" Quiet yourself, good Master Pope, and be 
not discomforted, for I trust that we shall once 
in heaven see each other full merrily, where wo 
shall be sure to live and love together in joyful 
bliss eternally." 

Upon whose departure, Sir Thomas More, as 
one who had been invited to some solemn feast, 
changed himsolf into his best apparel; which 
Master Lieutenant espying, advised him to put 
it off, saying that he that should have it was 
but a javil. 

"What, Master Lieutenant," quoth he, "shall 
I account him a javil that win do me this day 
so singular a benefit? Nay, I assure you, were 
it cloth of gold, I should think it well bestowed 
on him, as Saint Cyprian did, who gave hie 
executioner thirty pieces of gold." 

And, albeit, at length, through Master Lieu- 
tenant's inportunate persuasion, he altered his 
apparel, yet, after the example of holy martyr 
Saint Cyprian, did he, of that little money that 
was left him, send an angel of gold to his execu- 

And so was he by Master Lieutenant brought 
out of the Tower, and from thence led to the 
place of execution; where, going up the scaffold, 

which was so weak that it was ready to fall, he 
said merrily to the Lieutenant: 

"I pray you, Master Lieutenant, see me safe 
up, and for my coming down let me shift for 

Then desired he all the people thereabout to 
pray for him, and to bear witness with him 
that he should now there suffer death in and 
for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church. 

Which done, he kneeled down, and, after his 
prayers said, turned he to the executioner with 
a cheerful countenance, and said unto him : 

"Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not 
afraid to do thine office; my neck is very short, 
take heed, therefore, thou strike not awry, for 
saving of thine honesty." 

So passed Sir Thomas More out of this world 
to his God, upon the very same day which he 
most desired. Soon after his death came in- 
telligence thereof to Emperor Charles. Where- 
upon he sent for Sir Thomas Eliott, our English 
Ambassador, and said to him: 

"My Lord Ambassador, we understand that 
the King, your master, hath put his faithful 
servant, and grave, wise councillor, Sir Thomas 
More, to death." 

Whereupon Sir Thomas Eliott answered that 
" he understood nothing thereof." 

"Well," said the Emperor, "it is too true; 
and this will we say, of whose doings ourselves 
have had these many years no small experience, 
we would rather have lost the best city of our 
dominions than have lost such a worthy coun- 

Which matter was, by the same Sir Thomas 
Eliott, to myself, to my wife, to Master Clement 
and his wife, to Master John Heywood and his 
wife, and unto divers others his friends accord- 
ingly reported. 

When the account of More's execution was 
brought to the King he was " playing at tables" 
with the Queen, Anno Boleyn. It would appear 
that even he was somewhat conscience stricken, 
for, with some signs of discomposure, he said 
to his wife: 

"Thou art the cause of this man's death!" 



He then hastily withdrew, and shut himself 
up in the solitude of his chamber. 

Within a year the sequel to the tragedy was 
enacted, when the beautiful Queen herself was 
taken by barge from Greenwich to the Tower, 
from whence she, too, was subsequently led to 
her awful fate at the block. 

It was the wish of Sir Thomas More to be 
buried at the little family church at Chelsea, 
where an epitaph, written by himself, had 
already been placed in the chancel. 

Margaret Roper was determined to see this 
wish of her father carried out, and by un- 
wearied care and exertion she succeeded in 
getting his body removed from the Chapel of 
St. Peter's ad Vinoula, in the Tower, where 
it was at first interred, to the church wherein 
he had so often worshipped, near their old 
home at Chelsea. But there was another enter- 
prise that possessed her mind. 

Let us read its account from Mrs. Owen, who 
wrote so enthusiastically of Margaret Roper 
some sixty years ago. 

"That beloved head, with its countenance 
ever uniformly tender towards her, was an 
object of ardent yearning. Immediately after 
the execution, it had been put upon a pole on 
London Bridge, where that of Bishop Fisher, 
his companion and friend, had been fixed. The 
tatter's was thrown into the Thames, in order 
that Sir Thomas More's should replace it. 

"Thite circumstance probably suggested to 
Margaret Roper the only means by which it 
was possible she could obtain the object she 
desired. Watching and waiting, the time 
arrived when no guard cared longer about the 
preservation of 'the head of the traitor.' It 
was lowered from the pole whereon it had been 
raised, and Margaret tremblingly received the 
precious relic before it touched the river's edge, 
and, unobserved, escaped, bearing it with her. 

" It is not to be supposed, however, that, sur- 
rounded by spies, at that time so numerous and 
so malignant, this pious deed of filial affection 
remained long a secret. 

"Margaret Roper was summoned before the 
Council, and, bold, avowing the truth, and 

maintaining her rights as well as sentiments, 
she was imprisoned by order of the King. If 
they hoped to terrify or subdue her they were, 
however, mistaken. After suffering with calm- 
ness for a period, she was unexpectedly 
liberated, and permitted, without restriction, to 
seek her home and family." 

The Chelsea home was in unhappy oireum- 
etances, for the household was in pecuniary 
distress, as well as overwhelmed by grief for 
the loss that had been sustained. They had to 
thank the King's mercy for the confiscation of 
Sir Thomas More's property, the widow being 
liberally allowed for the proceeds of it an 
annuity of 20 for the remainder of her life. 

There was now a general breaking up of the 
household. Dame Margaret Roper withdrew 
herself to domestic retirement, devoting herself 
to the educating of her children, and the doing 
of good works, as became the lady of Well Hall. 

She had five children, namely, two sons and 
three daughters, and herself a lifelong student 
and distinguished scholar, she was specially 
qualified to lead them aright along the paths 
to knowledge. 

In her Chelsea days she had shewn herself no 
mean contributor to the stores of literature. 
Many of her Latin epistles, poems and orations 
had been freely circulated, and met with 
universal praise. A reply to Quintilian is said 
to have rivalled in eloquence the production to 
which it formed an answer. Dame Roper also 
wrote a treatise "Of the four last things," 
which was characterised by so much thought 
and reasoning that her father abandoned in its 
favour a discourse which he had partly com- 
posed upon the same subject. Added to these, 
she made a translation of the Ecclesiastical 
History of Eusebius from Greek into Latin, and 
this was afterwards rendered into English, some 
years after, by Mary, the youngest of her 
daughters, who followed the literary pursuits of 
her mother. 

She died at Well Hall at the age of thirty-five 
years, and was buried in the Roper tomb at 
St. Dunstan's Church, Canterbury. 

This, briefly told, is the story of Margaret 


Roper, whom we may be proud to call the Laxly over these characters, but we seem justified in. 

of Well Hall, and of her father, Sir Thomas doing so by the fact that father and daughter, 

More, whose name has been much associated by their life and works, and the noble examples 

with the history of the royal village of Eltham. they have set, stand forth as two of the most 

We have lingered rather longer than usual beautiful figures in English history. 



Sir William Roper was the most distinguished 
of this Well Hall family. We have already 
read something of him in the short story of 
Margaret, his wife, and of Sir Thomas More, 
mainly derived from the facts supplied by the 
Squire of Well Hall himself, in the book he 
wrote. Let us now se what more we can 
gather about the author of the book. 

William Roper was born in 1496, and died in. 
1578. He was the eldest son of John Roper, hia 
mother being Jane, the daughter of Sir John 
Fineux, the chief justice of the King's Bench. 
The father, John Roper, lived at Well Hall, 
having acquired the ownership of the manor, 
and he aleo owned property in the parish of 
St. Dunstan, Canterbury. He was Sheriff of 
Kent in 1521, and held for a long time the office 
of Clerk of the Pleas, or Prothonotary of the 
Conrt of King's Bench. John Roper was buried 
in the Roper vault in the Chapel of St. Dun- 
stan's Churoh, Canterbury, on April 7th, 1524. 

The will of John Roper was made in January, 
1523, and it became somewhat notorious for its 
provisions, which ignored the Kentish custom 
of gavel-kind, and were so complicated that it 
needed a special Act of Parliament, which was 
passed in 1529, to give effect to them. This re- 
markable will is printed in extenso in Archreo- 
logia Cantiana, Vol. ii., where it occupies 
twenty-one pages. 

We find that the widow of John Roper wrote 
a letter to Thomas Cromwell, in November, 
1539, begging him to bestow the office of 
Attorney to Anne of Cleves, who was about to 
become the Queen of England, upon John Pil- 

borough, husband of her second daughter, 

It will be remembered that Cromwell was 
chiefly instrumental in bringing about the 
marriage of Henry VIII. to Anne of Cleves, 
and being the Lord Privy Seal, was in a position 
to obtain favours. The letter craving patron- 
age for her sou-in-law, written by Mistress Jane 
Roper, of Well Hall, is still in existence at the 
Record Office. It is a matter of local interest, 
so we will make a transcription of it, with all 
its quaint spelling and phraseology, and we may 
see in what terms it was the custom to ask such 
favours in those days. 


In my most humble wyse, I have me 
comended unto your good lordship; and, all 
though, my goode lorde, I am all ready ex- 
ceedingly bounden unto you for your many- 
folde goodnesses evermore shewyd unto me, 
and unto my poore freends for my sake, 
whereof I am not able to reoompence any part 
in dede, but, of bounden dutie, must persever 
your daily bedewoman to God, for the con- 
tinuance of your prosperous estate; yet the 
good behavour of my son PILBOEOUGH, your 
servaunt, towarde me, and my naturall love 
to my doughter his wief , compelle me nowe to 
desire most hartely your good lordship to be 
good lord unto my said son, and preferre hym 
to be Attourney unto the Quene, whome, as 
I here saye, by Goddes grace, the Kynges 
hignes pleasith shortely moost nobly to mary. 
And your lordshippes soo doyng shall not be 
to my said son more pleasure then to me con- 
fort, which God rewarde you, you have 
alliwais tendred in me; and, nevertheless, 



bynde my said eon evermore both with dede 
to hia litell power and good wille of hie poore 
hert, to recompence duryng all hie lyfe. 

And, forasmuch, also, my god lord, that I 
here saye, it is the Kynges pleasure ehortely 
to come down into this Countrey of Kent, I 
doo prepaire to receive your lordship moost 
gladly into my poore house; which is so moche 
enryohed in my remembrance of your ones 
beyng there, that my special trust is, ye will 
never hereafter faile to be as bolde thereof as 
of your owen. And thus, Almyghtie God 
graunt your lordship prosperously long to 
lyve in your honourable estate. 

Written the xijth day of this present 
monyth of November, by her which is noo 
lease yours then she is bounden, 

Jane Rooper. 

To the Right honourable and my moost 
syngular good lorde, the lorde Pryve Seale, 
Geve this. 

It will be seen that this singular letter is 
interesting to us, in that it refers to a visit of 
the King to Eltham, and alludes to 'a visit 
which Thomas Cromwell had already made to 
Well Hall on some previous occasion. 

The youngest son of John Roper, Christopher, 
who died at Lyneted Lodge, Kent, was 
Escheator for the county in 1550. He married 
Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Blore, of 
Teynham, Kent, and was grandfather of Sir 
John Roper, who was created Baron Teynham 
on July 9th, 1616. The peerage is still held by 
a descendant. 

The eldest son, William, whose name has been 
so lastingly associated with Eltham, was edu- 
cated at one of the Universities, and under his 
father's will, inherited the larger part of the 
family properties, including the estates at 
Eltham and St. Dunstan's, Canterbury. In 
1523, when his father made his will, William 
held jointly with him the office of Clerk of the 
Pleas, or Prothonotary of the Court of King's 
Bench. This post he continued to hold alone, 
after his father's death, for the rest of his life. 

It was his legal duties in this capacity which 
apparently brought him into contact with Sir 
Thomas More, and he married Margaret, the 

eldest daughter of Sir Thomas, in 1525. As will 
have been seen already, More was deeply 
attached to young Roper, and that the affection 
was reciprocated is evidenced by the charmingly 
sympathetic life of Sir Thomas More, which his 
son-in-law wrote at Well Hall after the execu- 

Sir William Roper was an ardent Roman 
Catholic to the last, and during the reign of 
Queen Mary we find that he took a part in 
public life. He was returned to the second and 
third Parliaments of Mary, as Member for 
Rochester. In this Queen's last two Parlia- 
ments he sat for Canterbury. He did not, how- 
ever, re-enter the House of Commons after 
Queen Mary's death. , 

As a Roman Catholic, he fell under the 
suspicion of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council, 
and it ie on record that in July, 1568 he was 
summoned -before the Council, charged with 
having relieved with money certain persons who 
had fled the country, and had printed books 
against the Queen's Government. 

He made his submission, and in November, 
1569, entered into a bond to bo of good 
behaviour, and to appear before the Council 
when summoned. 

Along with Sir William Cordell, Master of the 
Rolls, we find that Sir William Roper was 
nominated visitor to the new foundation of St. 
John's College, Oxford, by Sir Thomas Whyte, 
the founder. The validity of the appointment 
was, however, disputed by Robert Home, 
Bishop of Winchester, in 1571. 

Sir William Roper resigned his office of 
Prothonotary in 1577, after holding the post for 
fifty-four years. He was succeeded in those 
duties by his eldest son, Thomas Roper. 

Sir William died on January 4th, 1577-8, at the 
advanced age of 82 years, and was buried in 
St. Dunstan's Church, Canterbury. His wife 
had died, thirty-three years before, at Well 
Hall. He left two sons, Thomas and Anthony, 
and three daughters. Thomas succeeded to the 
Eltham property, and was buried at St. Dun- 
etan's in 1597. The family of William Roper 
died out in the male line at the end of the 
seventeenth century, when Elizabeth Roper, 



wife of Edward Henshaw, of Hampshire, be- 
came the sole heiress of the Eltham and St. 
Dunstan Estates. 

There are frequent references to Sir William 
Roper and other members of the family in the 
parish records, and the name is also perpetu- 
ated by the street leading from the High-street 
to the National Schools, which is called 
" Roper-etreet." 

A reference to one of the Ropers is that of 
John Ford, who was Vicar of Eltham for thirty 
years, namely, from 1598 to 1628. This gentle- 
man does not seem to have worked very 
amicably with Sir William, who was a Papist, 
while Master Ford was apparently Puritan. 
The Vicar writes: 

"22 Oct., 1623. Sir William Roper returned 
from France, where he had remained a Catholic 
for 14 years. 

" Memorandum, that Mr. William Roper 
holdeth a certain parcel of wood amongst his 
woods, called the Vicar's spring, containing by 

estimate 15 acres, and payed for the same 15s. 
a year, as a most ungodly lease expresseth more 
at large. I leave a memorial to all Vicars 
succeeding after me, for there are yet so many 
years in the lease to come, being granted in the 
third of King Edward VI., by one Sir Henry 
Underwood, Vicar of Eltham, for four score 
and nineteen years by me John Forde, vie., of 
Eltham, 44 Elizabeth, A.D. 1602." 

"The Vicar's diet at Mr. Roper's table was 
dew to all Vicars for the aforesaid weed till 
Sir William Roper came, but then denied to me 
John Forde, Vicar, although justified unto me 
by his own mother. John Forde." 

In an earlier chapter upon the Parish Church 
wo have already shewn that the advowson of the 
Vicarage was at one time in the possession of 
the Ropers. 

Their memory is also kept alive by their 
association with the Eltham Charities, but this 
is a subject we shall allude to in a later chapter. 



Wo commenced our Story of Eltham with the 
ancient road which rune over Shooter's-hill, 
and forms the northern boundary of the parish 
of Eltham. It is a fine, straight road, running 
from London right away to the sea. By the 
art of the road makers it has been kept up-to- 
date to meet the changing circumstances of 
vehicular traffic, but the interesting thing 
about it ie that it runs practically upon the 
same course as that of the pre-historic trackway 
which some writers believe to have existed 
before the Romans came and re-constructed it 
according to their own methods. 

So that where to-day the cycles and motors 
whizz up and down the elopes of the hill, the 
British basket makers of primitive days may 
have trudged along conveying their goods to 
the eea for exportation to the markets of the 

When one thinke of the part which this old 
road has played in our national story it ie 
easy to see that its complete history would need 
a book all to itself. And the story of the part 
of it which forms the Eltham boundary at 
Shooter'e-hill is, to a great extent, that of the 
road itself, so that it is quite impossible within 
the limits that we have laid down for our 
" Story of Eltham" to deal with its historical 
associations in detail. 

We have in earlier chapters alluded, in pass- 
ing, to many of the great episodes it has wit- 
nessed, the retreat of the defeated Bnitons, the 
march of Ceesar's triumphant hosts, the tragedy 
of the Roman evacuation; then, farther down 
in the centuries, the progress of Wat Tyler's 
disorderly rabble, the woodland festival of 
Bluff King Hal, the Rogation procession of 

priest and people and Parish Clerk from 
Elthain Church to the cross upon the hill, and, 
later, that eventful night of the Armada, when 
the excited villagers beheld the blazing beacon 
brightening the sky. 

But this is only a little portion of the tale 
of Shooter's-hill. Before the advent of railways 
its roadway was the medium of traffic between 
London and the Continent. Many a royal pro- 
gress has it seea since the days of the early 
kings down to the time, in the memory of some 
who are living now, when it was decorated with 
Venetian masts and flags to celebrate the 
coming of Prince Albert, the father of King 
Edward VII. Armies have passed and re- 
passed, from days anterior to the Crusades 
down to Waterloo. Along the great highway 
went the pilgrims, of whom Chaucer has sung, 
some stopping to rest and pray at the cross 
upon the hill, on their journey to the shrine of 
Saint Thomas, at Canterbury. And last, but 
not the least important, that continuous train 
of traffic borne by pack horses in the early 
days, and by waggons in later years, of mer- 
chandise for the great city. 

There seems to be some difference of opinion 
as to the origin of the name " Shooter's Hill." 
The popular idea ia that it took its rise in the 
practice of archery, which was so conspicuous a 
feature of village life before the introduction 
of firearms. Every village produced its bow- 
men, who, when the occasion demanded, proved 
a formidable contingent of the English fighting 
forces. Many a battle was won for the English 
through the skill and prowess of the bowmen. 

An old " Common Council-book" of the town 
of Chester throws eome light upon the way 



archery was practised in those days, and shows 
pretty clearly hew the English bowmen were 
trained from their childhood. Here is an 
extract : 

" For the avoiding of idleness, all children of 
six years old and upwards shall on week-days 
be set to school, or some virtuous labour, 
whereby they may hereafter get an honest 
living; and on Sundays and holy days they 
shall resort to their parish churches and there 
abide during the time of divine service, and in 
the afternoon all the said male children shall 
be exercised in shooting with bows and arrows, 
for pins and points only ; and that their parents 
furnish them with bows and arrows, pins and 
points, for that purpose, according to the 
statute lately made for the maintenance of 
shooting in long bows and artillery, being the 
ancient defence of the kingdom." 

Prom this it will be seen that the custom was 
national, and made necessary by "statute." 

We use the term "artillery" now-a-days for 
the cannon of warfare, but in old days the 
name was specially applied to bows and arrows. 
In I. Samuel, xx., 40, we read : " And Jonathan 
gave his artillery (i.e., ' bows and arrows ') unto 
hie lad." 

But an ingenious writer in " The Kentish 
Note Book," May 14th, 1892, is inclined to 
dispute the theory that " Shooter's-hill" derives 
its name from its association with archery. He 

" Every parish, in 1385, had to provide a place 
where every youth had to practise with the 
longibow. Where the -targets were erected was 
not called Shooter' Vhill, green, field, or close, 
for Butts was the term used, the memory of 
which is often perpetual in local names," 
such as "Butt-lane," "Butt-close," "Buts- 
field," " Butts Green," &c. 

"I very much question," he continues, "if 
Butts ever existed at Shooter's-hill, because 
there was no necessity for them. They were 
usually in close proximity to the parish church. 
Islington Butts, Lambeth Butts, Newington 
Butts were so situated. In Deptford, Butt 
Lane led to them and in Greenwich, we learn 
from old deeds, the ' Butts where the archers 

were wont to exercise ' were in Stockwell-street, 
a good bow-shot from the church. 

"Eltham, in which parish Shooter's-hill is 
situated, had its Butts in ' Butslow,' west of the 
main road leading to Southend. Where Wool- 
wich and Plumstead had them I do not know, 
but, undoubtedly, in conformity with the law, 
the butts were within the confines of the 

With regard to the Eltham Butts, there are 
frequent references to them in the church- 
warden's account, and "Eastfields," a position 
north of the main road (not west, as the writer 
in the "Note Book" suggests) was apparently 
assigned to them. 

Being satisfied that the hill was not needed 
by Eltham, Plumstead, Woolwich, or Green- 
wich for the purpose of butts, he proceeds to 
discuss a theory of the origin of the name 
" ShooterVihill," which is extremely interest- 
ing. He proceeds: 

"Mr. Vincent, on p. 634 of liecords of Wool- 
wich, says that the form ' Shouters-helle,' of the 
year 1614, is the strangest transformation it has 
undergone, but ' Shouters-helle ' is only a 
dialectic or phonetic variation of the present 
name. In the Patent Bolls in 1383 it was 
written ' Shetteresheld.' A 'Shotar's Croft' is 
mentioned in a Woolwich will, dated 1538; 
' Shoters-dioh,' and ' Soutenis-diche ' occur in 
leases of fields adjacent to Shooter's-hill, 1522, 
all of which seem to contain the word shaw, a 
wood. In a deed, dated 1608, relating to Kid- 
brooke, a wood called ' Shoemakers ' is men- 
tioned, which I take to be a corruption of 
shaio mycell, 'the little wood." Shoe-lane was 
formerly Shaw Lane, a path under the trees by 
the side of the Old Bourne that ran into the 
Thames at Blackfriars. 

" ' Closes ' in Eltham called ' Shirte," 
' Sheterindinge,' and ' Shetterrindiug," in 1547 
and 1608, all seem to point to the place being 
Shaw-tor, i.e., ' wooded-hill.' This is a more 
plausible explanation than ' Shooter's,' yet I 
venture to put forward a more probable one 

Concerning the many ways of spelling the 
name Shooter's-hill, the various references in 



former chapters of our " Story of Eltham," to- 
gether with the quotations from the old 
parochial records, afford striking examples. 

A second, and perhaps more probable theory 
is submitted by the writer referred to. 

" In former days the meetings of the various 
'County Councils' were held in the open air: 
' On the summit of a range of hills, on the 
water-shed from which the fertilising streams 
descended, at the point where the boundaries 

the meetings of the shire-moot. (Gomme's 
Primitive Folk Moot, p. 213.) 

"Should this be the case, the name would 
originally be ' Shire Tor,' and when the usage 
passed away and the meaning of the second 
word became obsolete, the modern Mil would be 
added as a duplication, as has been the case in 
various points of Great Britain, as Brindon- 
hill, Somerset; Pinhow, Lancashire; Penhill, 
Dumfries; Penlaw, in Dumfries, &c. (Taylor's 


of two or three communities touched another, 
was the proper place for the common periodical 
assemblage of the freemen." (Kemble's Saxons 
in England, vol. i., p. 75.) 

"All these qualifications unite in Shooter's- 
hill; ite position is prominent, it is and was a 
fertile watershed, it is at the junction of several 
boundaries, and so, probably, was the place 
where the moot was held. 

"Many instances occur in which the word 
'shire' is connected with some natural place, a 
river, a brook, hill, ford, &c., in forming a 
modern place name; and it is not difficult, from 
the light of other facto, to connect these with 

Words and Places, p. Ml.) In 1286 a jury was 
sworn concerning a hunting trespass, arid 
assembled at Hull Cnole, now called Howl Hill. 
(Duncombe's Hereford, vol. 3, p. 101). The Hill 
of Howth, near Dublin, is another instance 
(Joyces Names of Places, p. 81), and many more 
could be adduced did space permit." 

These conflicting opinions shew how un- 
certain we are as to the real derivation of the 
name " Shooter's-hill." But they are interest- 
ing speculations, associated as each one of them 
is with striking features of the village life in 
the past, and shewing how illuminating even a 
place name may sometimes be made in reveal- 
ing the modes of life of our forefathers. 



From an elegantly printed pamphlet by the 
Rev. T. B. Willson, Vicar of Shooter's-hill from 
1856 to 1906, we make the following extract, 
which briefly but eloquently deals with the 
historical aspect of Shooter's-hill. 

"If Shooter'e-hill, as a parish, is but new, 
and has little history, yet the hill itself is most 
closely connected with the history of England. 
Over it, in ancient days, the Eomans, after they 
had added our island to their mighty empire, 
made oue of their great military roads which 
ran almost as straight as an arrow from Dover 
to London, and over it the legions passed on 
their way to extend their conquests further 
north. Then, after the break up of the empire, 
came the wild days of the Saxon invasion, and 
when Christianity and civilisation re-asserted 
themselves in Kent the road became one of the 
great highways from London to the coast, pass- 
ing through Rochester and Canterbury. 

" We can well picture Mellitus, the first 
Bishop of London, after the revival of Chris- 
tianity, leaving his brother Justus in Rochester, 
making his way to London, and pausing when 

he reached the top of the hill to gaze on the 
Thames valley and discern in the distance the 
buildings which clustered round the hill upon 
which St. Paul's now stands. Then, as the 
centuries rolled by, the road as a great highway 
grew in importance, and the thirteenth and 
sixteenth centuries saw many parties of 
pilgrims who passed that way, as ' from every 
schires end of Engelond to Canterbury they 
wende' to pay their devotions at the 'Holy 
blissful Martyr,' St. Thomas of Canterbury, 
and these parties must often have rejoiced when 
they safely passed the ' perils of robbers,' 
which, almost to our own day, alarmed many 
wayfarers as they climbed the hill. 

"Thus the years rolled by, and Shooter's-hill 
witnessed many and noted companies of 
travellers. The days of the mail coaches made 
it a place of importance as the end of the first 
stage from London, and the Bull Inn, where 
they changed horses, saw many famous men 
and women pass its doors from 1749 (when it 
was first built) until the iron horse superseded 
the old method of travelling, and the last 
coach drove from London to Dover." 




In the old days there were few spots round 
the Metropolis which had a worse repute than 
Shooter's-hill for the robberies, outrages and 
murders committed by highwaymen on ite 
lonely road. Blackheath was infested by 
robbers of this class, who found cover in the 
heath that grew so profusely there. But the 
long and narrow road through the Shooter's- 
hill woods was even better suited for their dark 
deeds, and to pass the dangerous hill without 
molestation was a thing to be thankful for. 

And it was not for any lack of warning that 
such ill deeds would bring their punishment 
that these desperadoes went on with their evil 
work. The gibbet was standing before their 
eyes, somewhere about the spot where the 
police-station now is, and it was quite a 
common thing to see the corpses of miserable 
wretches dangling from the cross-bars, in 

Plenty of examples of the villainous doings of 
these men can be culled from the newspapers of 
the eigtheenth century, and as the story of 
Shooter's-hill could not possibly be complete 
without some mention of them, we will give 
presently the newspaper accounts of a few of 
the more notorious cases. 

The authorities recognised that the natural 
characteristics of Shooter's-hill were helpful to 
the robbers, and from time to time alterations 
were made in the road with the object of lessen- 
ing the dangers, as well as improving the road- 

As far back as the time of Edward II., we 
find that the highway was enlarged at 

" Shoter's-hill " "a place of great dread to 
travellers, owing to the narrowness of the road 
over it, and the continual lurking nests of 
robbers in the woods and coppices." Further 
alterations were made in the time of Edward 
III. (1327). But it was not till 1739 that the 
road was re-constructed, a change which 
deprived the thieves of those natural advan- 
tages that enabled them to so easily entrap 
their victims. 

Sixty years later the road underwent another 
change, namely, in 1796, when it was given the 
form which is familiar to us at the present day. 
Tradition associates the name of Dick Turpin 
with Shooter's-hill. It is quite possible that 
this daring highway thief may have committed 
some of his crimes here; but the story that it 
was at the old Bull that he perpetrated the 
'brutal crime of putting the landlady upon the 
tavern fire is questioned by Mr. W. T. Vincent, 
in his "Records of the Woolwich District." 
Mr. Vincent, who searched the oldest and most 
authentic authorities, tells us that the oocur- 
rance took place at the Bull at Loughton, in 

The following circumstances were communi- 
cated to the "Kentish Note Book," in Decem- 
ber, 1888, the account being copied from a news- 
paper cutting, dated March, 1792: 

" Captain Dempster, accompanied by a lady, 
was returning to London from Gravesend, on 
Friday night, about half-past ten o'clock. At 
the foot of Shooter's-hill the chaise suddenly 
stopped, and the captain let down the front 
glass, and called to the poet boy to know why 
he did not proceed. 



" When, after a few groans, he replied that 
he had been suddenly knocked from off his 
horse, and that he was at first eo stunned by 
the fall, as to be unable to reply, and that the 
darkness of the night had prevented his observ- 
ing anyone coming towards him, but that a 
man had hold of the horses' heads. 

"The chaise door on the side the lady sat 
was in a few moments after opened, and a man 
appeared at it, at whom the captain discharged 
a pistol. The fellow fell backwards, but 
whether from fright or from any wound he 
might have received, is not ascertained. 

The other door was now opened, and the cap- 
tain fired a second pistol at the fellow who 
stood at it, but who, from the flash, Mr. D. 
observed kept rather towards the back of the 
carriage, by which he probably saved his life. 
The captain had no ammunition left, but 
refused to deliver his money, and one of the 
footpads discharged a pistol into the chaise. 

In about two minutes after, on his still refus- 
ing to deliver, a second pistol was fired through 
the carriage, and so on, every two minutes, 
until six pistols were fired. They always keep- 
ing rather behind the chaise doors, in order 
as well to conceal their persons as to protect 

"At length, owing to the fright the lady who 
accompanied Captain Dempster was in, he was 
induced to comply with their demands. They 
then ordered him to throw his watch and 
money out of the window into the road. He 
threw them one guinea and a half and his 
watoh, which, with the chain and seals affixed 
to it was valued at one hundred guineas, and 
by their direction, the chaise drove on." 

The following incident not only reveals the 
impudence of some of these scoundrels, who 
went about their business sometimes in broad 
daylight, and actually committed their 
robberies in sight of other people, who, possibly 
through fright, were helpless to render assist- 
ance, but there is a touch of humour in the 
rascal's plea that he was "a gentleman in dis- 
tress." The account is taken from The 
Kentish Gazette of Saturday, June 24th, 1769 : 

" Monday evening, about nine o'clock, in the 
lane between Shooter's-hill and Eltham, in 
Kent, a post-ohaise, with a Lady and Gentle- 
man therein, and some Gentlemen and Ladies 
on foot, within fifty yards thereof of the same 
party, who had been regaling on the hill with 
tea, and reviewing the prospect, in returning 
hme thence, were robbed of their watches and 
money by a middle-aged, genteel man, who pre- 
sented an uncommonly large, bright horee 
pistol, with brass ornaments, and represented 
himself as a Gentleman in distress." 


The Birmingham Gazette, or the General 
Correspondent, of November 16th, 1741, pub- 
lished the following note on a robbery which is 
Eltham history in more senses than one: 

"On Saturday last, a Riding Officer, belong- 
ing to the Excise at Eltham, in Kent, was 
robb'd by a single Highway man, on Shooter's 
Hill, of about 20, seventeen whereof he had 
received of some County Tradesmen to pay in 
for them for their Duty at the office." 

The following two cases, among others, are 
recorded by Mr. Vincent in his "Records of 
Woolwich" : 

"July 22nd,, 1785. On Thursday evening, 
exactly at nine o'clock, eight gentlemen, of a 
respectable character in the City, having been 
at an annual dinner at the Black Bull, on 
Shooter's Hill, returning in two coaches to 
town, were stopped by two highwaymen, well 
mounted, who thrust their pistols into each 
coach, and collected upwards of twenty pounds. 

"Not being satisfied without their watches, 
they were opening the door to search, but, a 
post chaise suddenly coming by, the villains 
rode after the postiboy, who, not stopping 
directly they ordered him, one of the robbers 
discharged his pistol at the lad, and then took 
a small sum from the passengers, and treated 
the driver with great inhumanity for what they 
called his inattention." 


September, 1752. Last Thursday, in the after- 
noon, between five and six a young gentleman 
was robbed in the Woolwich stage-coach by two 



highwaymen, genteelly mounted, near the 
Artichoke, at Blaokheath. They both oame up 
to the coach door; one of them clapped a pistol 
to his breast and demanded his money, on 
which he delivered up all he had, but desired 
that they would return him one shilling to 
pay his coach fare, which they refused, but 
otherwise behaved very complaisantly, shook 
hands with him and wished him good-night. 
They demanded money of a woman that was in 
the coach, but she having only two shillings, 
they thought that not worth taking. They 
were both young men, and went off towards 

As late as the year 1800 we find these " gentle- 
men of the road" were quite masters of the 
situation at Shooter's-hill. So impotent were 
the authorities in the matter that the thieves 

even went to the extent of organising a system 
of tolls, issuing tickets or passes, at a certain 
price, to ensure a safe passage across the hill. 

Mr. Vincent tells us that "when Dr. Watson 
was tutor to Princess Charlotte at Shrewsbury 
House, in 1800, he was furnished (for a hand- 
some consideration) with a certificate for the 
knights of the road which carried him safely 
past their marked videttes upon the hill, and 
was respected by every bushranger from end to 
end of the dreaded highway." 

A writer in the "Kentish Note Book" tells 
us, in connection with this circumstance, that 
the impudent rogues would not allow the Prin- 
cess herself to pass from Shrewsbury House to 
and from London until they had been 
"squared" by Dr. Watson, on behalf of Her 
Hoyal Highness. Those were, indeed, "the 
good old times." 



In our own day, with our highly organised 
system of police, it is difficult to imagine the 
conditions of social life which permitted such 
bare-faced outrages as those which were regu- 
larly perpetrated at Shooter's-hill, even as late 
as a hundred years ago. 

But the opportunities for these practices were 
greater then than now. Travelling was slow, 
there was no telegraphic system in operation, 
and the officers of justice, wio were the pre- 
cursors of the modern policemen, were more or 
less impotent individuals, quite incapable of 
dealing with such an evil. 

Nevertheless the "gentlemen of the road," 
notwithstanding their successes, led a pre- 
carious life; they were driven to living in 
hiding, and to be constantly on the alert 
against surprise and arrest, while the grim- 
looking gibbet at the cross-roads was a per- 
petual reminder of the fate that awaited them 
should they be captured. 

Mr. Vincent says: "I have met with old in- 
habitants who remember two ruffians being 
hanged and gibbeted at the top of the hill, and 
two others by the cross-roads at Eltham 
Bottom. These latter were Eussell and King, 
a couple of desperadoes, who resided at Black- 
heath, and suffered the penalty of their crimes 
in 1809. Their bones were discovered when the 
police-station was built" just above where the 
Herbert Hospital stands. 

Many of our best writers of fiction have made 
the highwayman an interesting and picturesque 
figure in the tales they have had to tell, and 
the rascal has often been made to contribute 
to a humorous situation, generally at the ex- 

pense of someone else. But occasions have 
sometimes occurred outside the sphere of fiction 
in which that gentleman has met his match, 
and found the tables turned upon him, and 
the laugh against him. An incident of this 
kind actually took place at Shooter's-hill. We 
will give the circumstance in the words of the 
one who was best qualified to recount it: 

This exquisite story of how a sailor, on his 
way from Chatham to London, turned the 
tables on a band of highwaymen, who were in 
wait about Shooter's-hill, is contained in 

Jackson's Recantation; 

or the Life and Death of the notorious High- 
wayman now hanging in chains at Hampstead. 
Delivered To a Friend a Little 

before Execution, 

Wherein is truly discovered the whole 
Mystery of that Wicked and 

Fatal Profession of 

Padding on the Jtoad. 

London, Printed for T. B. in the year 1674. 

The story is reprinted in the third volume 
of Messrs. Reeves and Turner's Old-Book 
Collector's Miscellany, 1873, where it occupies 
52 pages. 

Mr. Jackson and his associates were hovering 
about Shooter's-hill, expecting paid-off sea- 
men from Chatham on their way to town. 
After easing the pockets of a great many 
stragglers, but carefully avoiding those who 
came three, four, or five in a body, they met 
with a parson coming from London, from whom 
they took fifteen pounds, generously returning 
him twenty shillings on receiving his promise 
that he would inform none what had happened ; 



but he, meeting with a seaman, warned him to 
turn back, lest he should meet with the same 

The remainder of the story we will tell in 
Mr. Jackson's own words : 

"The resolute seaman would not believe the 
parson, thinking it some idle chimera of his own 
invention, and so went on hie way, and the 
parson on his. 

"Coming up to the seaman, we told him to 
stand, who asked us what we meant. 

" We told him that we wanted money. 

"'Alas! gentlemen,' said he, 'It is true I 
have some, which I received for my pay in his 
Majesty's Service, and therefore it is pity to 
take that from me which I am carrying home 
for the maintenance of my poor wife and chil- 
dren. ' 

If he had persuaded an angel to have been 
his orator, and pleaded in his behalf, it would 
have been all one, for no other sound pleased 
us but his money. 

" When he saw that there was no remedy, he 
delivered all he had, which was sixty-five 

" ' Now, gentle/nen,' said he, ' let me beg one 
request of you, and that is, since I dare not go 
home to my wife, and at present know not 
what course of life to steer, admit me into your 
company; you see I am limbed well enough, 
and I have courage and strength enough to 
qualify me for your occupation.' 

"We asked him whether he was in earnest; 
he swore a hundred oaths he was in earnest, 
and was ready to be tried at that instant; in- 
sisting farther that he was greatly in love with 
a trade that could get as much money in six 
minutes as he could in three years. 

"I was then the purse-bearer, and, finding 
that we had done enough for that day, we 
appointed a place to meet at, and so distributed 
ourselves for the present; only I had the charge 
of the seaman, who was wretchedly mounted, 
and therefore I needed not to fear him; besides 
as we rode along, I bound him over and over 
again, by oaths, to stand to what promise he 
had made us. 

"At length, riding in a lane, suspecting no- 
thing in the least, he turned his little hobby 
on me, and, seizing my bridle before I was 
aware, claps to my breast a little ugly brass- 
barrelled pistol, and swore, as if he had been 
one of the trade for above twenty years, if I 
would not instantly dismount he would send a 
bullet through my heart. 

"I saw by his frightful countenance that 
there was no dallying, so I dismounted, and 
gave him my horse, and he in his kindness bid 
me take hie. 

"Such a beast I never saw on a common; so 
poor, so weak, that I was thinking to commit 
my safety to my own, and not to his legs. 

"You may imagine what a sweat I was in, 
being thus dismounted, for having committed 
BO nwny robberies that day, should I be met 
by any of the country, they would conclude me 
one of the robbers, seeing a man so splendidly 
accoutred, riding on a beast hardly fit to feed 
crows and ravens. 

"The night coming on favoured me, and I 
got among my associates; and now I shall give 
you guess whether their laughter or sorrow 
was greatest ? First, that a stout thief (for so I 
was accounted) should be robbed by a hobby- 
horse and a pot-gun; and, secondly, so much 
money lost (above one hundred and eighty 
pounds, we learn from a previous part of Mr. 
Jackson's narration), money that we thought 
secure beyond the probability of re-taking. 

" We heard that the seaman, after he had 
paid himself, summoned in such brethren as 
had been robbed by us, and none else, but the 
parson, and ho returned them their money," 


In the quaintly written but most interesting 
diary of Samuel Pepye, we get several refer- 
ences to Shooter's-hill. One of them bears 
directly upon that aspect of the history of the 
place which we are now considering, and gives 
us a grim and realistic picture of what was a 
common sight for the wayfarer in the days of 
Charles II. 

Pepys had been paying a visit to Rochester, 
and in his characteristic style describes the 
journey from Dartford to Shooter's-hill, in the 



company of Captain Cuttanee and Mrs. Anne. 
On coming to Shooter's-Mll, the diarist says: 

"By-and-bye we came to two little girls keep- 
ing cows, and I saw one of them very pretty, 
so I had a mind to make her ask my blessing, 
and telling her that I was her godfather, she 
asked innocently whether I was Ned Wooding, 
and I said I was. 

"So she kneeled 
called : 

down, and very simply 

' Pray, godfather, pray to God to bless me.' 

cruelly murdered two men near unto Shooter's- 
hill, in Kent; the one of them was a wealthy 
merchant in London, named George Sanders, 
tho other John Beano of Woolwich. 

"On Tuesday the said George Brown, receiv- 
ing recent intelligence by letter from Mistress 
Ann Drewry that Master Sanders should lodge 
that night in the house of one Master Barnes, 
of Woolwich, and from thence go on foot to 
Saint Mary Cray the next morning, lay in wait 
for him and John Beane, servant to Master 

"Which made us all merry, and I gave her 

Then follows a gruesome picture. "Going 
on," he writes, " Mrs. Anne and I rode under 
a man that hangs at Shooter's-hill, and a filthy 
sight it was, to see how his flesh is shrunk to 
his bones. So home, and I found all well." 

Yet another old writer, John Stow, has left 
on record a tragic incident of Shooter's-hill, 
which reveals to us its condition in the days of 
Queen Elizabeth, and, as Mr. Vincent observes, 
earned for the locality tho name of the " Hill 
of Blood." The following is Stow's record: 

"On the 25th of March, 1573, being the 
Wednesday in Easter week, George Brown 

Barnes, but John Beane, having ten or eleven 
wounds, and being left for dead, by God's 
providence revived again, and, creeping away 
all four, was found by an old man and his 
maiden, and taken to Woolwich, where he gave 
evident marks of the murderer, who was after- 
wards hanged up in chains near unto the place 
where he had done the fact." 

We often like to talk of the "good old 
times," and to try and realise the bright, sunny 
and haippy features of "merrie England," 
sometimes wishing perhaps that we might see 
those days again. But the story of Shooter's- 
hill reminds us that there were dark and ugly 

No. 140. 


Parliamentary General, who died at Eltham Palace 
(See text). 

No. 141. 

SIR JOHN SHAW. (First Baronet, Created 1665). 

From the Family Portrait by Sir Peter Lely. By special permission of the 
Rev. Sir Charles Shaw, Barl. 

(Copyright for this book only) 


blots on the picture, and, notwithstanding the the dangerous enterprise that it was in the 

fact that we are far from being perfect, even days of Samuel Pepye, or even at the beginning 

in the early years of the twentieth century, we of last century, nor is the fair face of the 

may very well congratulate ourselves that the countryside disfigured by the gruesome 

journey from Eltham to Woolwich is not now spectacle of the gallows tree at the cross-roads. 





Shooter's-hill is frequently alluded to in 
English literature. Pepys we have already 
mentioned. Charles Dickens makes it the scene 
in the opening chapter of "The Tale of Two 
Cities," and those who know their " Pickwick" 
will remember with pride that when the elder 
Weller gave up driving his famous coach he 
retired to an "excellent" at 
Shooter's-hill. Lord Byron gives it some pro- 
minent in " Don Juan," and that humble but 
sincere writer, Robert Bloomfield, the Suffolk 
poet, has left some interesting verses upon it. 

The magnificent prospect to be obtained from 
the summit of Shooter's-hill has often been 
described. The grand old river, with the 
mighty city upon its banks, on the one hand, 
and the fair fields of beautiful Kent on the 
other, are, indeed, worthy themes for the 
descriptive writer, whether of prose or poetry. 

One of such descriptions is to be found in the 
little-known novel, "Roxana," by De Foe, and 
as it describes the scene as it appeared in the 
reign of Charles II., we will make some ex- 
tracts from it here. Roxana, the lady who 
is the central character of the book, is on 
a journey from London to Dover, and she is 
supposed to be the writer : 

"At St. George's Church, Southwark, we 
were met by three gentlemen on horseback, who 
were merchants of my husband's acquaintance, 
and had come out a-purpose to go half a day's 
journey with us; and as they kept talking to 
us at the coach side, we went a good pace, and 
were very merry together; we stopped at the 
best house of entertainment on Shooter's-hill. 

Here we stopped about an hour, and drank 
some wine ; and my husband, whose chief study 
was how to please and divert me, caused me to 
alight out of the coach; which the gentlemen 
who accompanied us observing, alighted also. 
The waiter shewed ue upstairs into a large 
room, whose window opened to our view a fine 
prospect of the river Thames, which here, they 
say, forms one of the most beautiful meanders. 

" It was within an hour of high water, and 
such a number of ships coming in under sail 
quite astonished as well as delighted me, inso- 
much that I could not help breaking out into 
such like expressions : ' My dear, what a fine 
sight this is; I never saw the like before!' 
' Pray will they get to London this tide ?' At 
which the good-naturad gentleman smiled, and 
said, 'Yes, my dear; why, there is London, and 
as the wind is quite fair to them, some of them 
will come to an anchor in about half-an-ihour, 
and all within an hour.' 

" I was so much taken up with looking down 
the river that till my husband spoke I had not 
once looked up the river; but when I did, and 
saw London, the Monument, the Caithedral 
Church of St. Paul, and the steeples belonging 
to the several parish churches, I was trans- 
ported into an ecstasy, and could not refrain 
from saying : ' Surely that cannot be the place 
we have just come from! It must be further 
off,, for that looks to be scarce three miles off, 
and we have been three hours, by my watch, 
coming from our lodgings in the Minories! 
No, no, it is not London; it is some other 
place !' 

"Upon which one at the gentlemen present 
offered to convince me that the place I saw was 



London, if I would go up to the top of the 
house, and view it from the turret. I accepted 
the offer, and I, my husband, and the three 
gentlemen were conducted, by the master of the 
house, upstairs into the turret. If I was 
delighted before with my prospect, I was now 
ravished, for I was elevated above the room I 
was in before, upwards of thirtv feet. I seemed 
a little dizzy, for the turret being a lantern, 
and giving light all ways, for some time 1 
thought I was suspended in the air; but, sitting 
down, and eating a mouthful of biscuit, and 
drinking a glass of sack, I soon recovered, and 
then the gentleman who had undertaken to con- 
vince me that the place I was shewn was really 
London thus began, after having drawn aside 
one of the windows: 

'You see, my lady,' says the gentleman, 
'the greatest, the richest, the finest, and the 
most populous city in the world, at least, in 
Europe, as I can assure your ladyship, upon 
my knowledge, it deserves the character I have 
given it.' 

"But this, sir, will never convince me that the 
place you now shew me is London, though I 
have before hea/rd that London deserves the 
character you have with so much cordiality 
bestowed upon it. And this I can testify, that 
London, in every particular you have men- 
tioned, greatly surpasses Paris, which is 
allowed by all historians and travellers to be 
the second city in Europe. 

"Here the gentleman, pulling out his pocket 
glass, desired me to look through it, which I 
did; and then he directed me to look full at 
St. Paul's, and to make that the centre of my 
future observations, and thereupon he promised 
me conviction. 

"Whilst I took my observation I sat in a 
high chair, made for that purpose, with a con- 
venience before you to hold the glass. I soon 
found the cathedral; and then I could not help 
saying: 'I have been several times up to the 
stone gallery, but not quite so often up to the 
iron gallery. Then I brought my eye to the 
monument, ami was obliged to confess I knew it 
to be such. The gentleman then moved his 
glass, and desired me to look, which doing, I 
said: 'I think I see Whitehall and St. James's 

Park, and I see also two great buildings, like 
barns, but I do not know what they axe.' 

' Oh,' says the gentleman, ' they are the 
Parliament Houses and Westminster Abbey.' 
' They may be so,' said I; and, continuing look- 
ing, I perceived the very house at Kensington 
which I had lived in some time. But of that 
I took no notice; yet I found my colour come, 
to think what a life of gaiety I had lived. 
The gentleman, perceiving my disorder, said: 
' I am afraid I have tired your ladyship; I will 
make but one remove, more easterly, and then 
I believe you will allow the place we see to 
be London. 

"He might have saved himself the trouble, 
for I was thoroughly convinced of my error; 
but to give myself time to recover, and to hide 
my confusion, I seemed not yet to be quite 
convinced. I looked, and the first object that 
presented itself was Aldgate Church, w.hioh, 
though I confess it to my shame, I seldom saw 
the inside of it, yet I was well acquainted with 

the outside I saw the church, or 

the steeple of the church, so plain, and I knew 
it so well, that I could not help saying, with 
some earnestness, 'My dear, I see our church; 
the church, I mean, belonging to our neigh- 
bourhood; I am sure it is Aldgate Church.' 
Then I saw the Tower, and all the shipping; 
and, taking my eye from the glass, I thanked 
the gentleman for the trouble I had given him, 
and said to him that I was fully convinced that 
the place I saw was London, and that it was the 
very place we came from that morning." 

This is the description which the author, 
De Foe, makes "Boxana" write. It is dis- 
tinguished by the realism, which is character- 
istic of De Foe's fiction. But, fiction or not, it 
certainly suggests that the author had visited 
Shooter's-hill, and surveyed the prospects him- 

Now let us turn to the simple verses of Robert 
Bloomfield (1766-1823), the Suffolk poet, author 
of the " Fanner's Boy," and many otlier pieces 
descriptive of the various phases of coun- 
try life. He seems to have dwelt at 
Woolwich for a time, and while there 
to have suffered from ill-Jiealth. He used to 



olimb Shooter's-hill as a "constitutional"; 
and theee excursions gave rise to the lines from 
which we now auote. 

Health! I seek thee; dost thou love 

The mountain top or quiet vale, 
Or deign o'er humbler hills to rove 

On showery June's dark south-west gale? 
If so, I'll meet all blasts that blow, 

With silent step, but not forlorn; 
Though, goddess, at thy shrine I bow, 

And woo thee each returning morn. 

I see thee where, w.ith all his might, 

The joyous bird his rapture tells, 
Amidst the half-excluded light, 

That gilds the foxglove's pendant bells; 
Where, cheerily up this bold hill's side 

The deepening groves triumphant climb; 
In groves delight and peace abide, 

And wisdom marks the lapse of time. 

O'er eastward uplands, gay or rude, 

Along to Erith's ivied spire, 
I start, with strength and hope renew'd, 

And cherish life's rekindling fire. 
Now measure vales with straining eyes, 

Now trace the churchyard's humble names; 
Or climb brown heaths, abrupt that rise. 

And overlook the winding Thames. 

Sweet Health, I seek thee! Hither bring 

Thy balm, that softens human ills; 
Oome, on the long-drawn clouds that fling 

Their shadows o'er the Sunrey hills. 
Yon green-topped hills, and far away, 

Where late as now I freedom stole. 
And spent one dear, delicious day 

On thy wild banks, romantic Mole. 

Aye, there's the scene ! beyond the sweep 

Of London's congregated cloud, 
The dark brow'd wood, the headlong steep, 

And valley paths without a cloud! 
Here, Thames, I watoh thy flowing tides, 

Thy thousand sails am proud to see; 
But where the Mole all silent glides, 

Dwells peace and peace is wealth to me. 

This far-seen monumental tower 
Eeoords th' achievements of the brave, 

And Angoa's subjugated power, 
Who plundered on tlie eastern wave. 

I would not that such turrets rise, 
To point out where my bones are laid; 

Save that some wandering bard might prize 
The comforts of its broad, cool shade. 

0, Vanity! since thou'rt decreed 

Companion of our lives to be, 
I'll seek the moral songster's meed, 

An earthly immortality; 
Most vain ! O let me, from the past, 

Remembering what to man is given, 
Lay Virtue's broad foundations fast, 

Whose glorious turrets reach to heaven. 

In strong contrast with the homely lines of 
this peasant singer, are those of different senti- 
ment written by Lord Byron in the eleventh 
canto of "Don Juan." This is how he describes 
the incident of the highwayman who attacked 
Don Juan, who was journeying over Shooter's- 
hill, in the direction of London : 

Don Juan got out on Shooter's-ihill ; 

Sunset the time, the place the same declivity 
Which looks along that vale of good and ill, 

Where London streets ferment in full 

While everything around was calm and still, 

Except the creak of wheels, which on their 

pivot he 

Heard and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum 
Of cities, that boil over with their scum. 

I say, Don Juan, wrapt in contemplation, 
Walk'd on behind the carriage, o'er the 

And lost in wonder of so great a nation, 

Gave way to't, since he could not overcome it. 
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's ohosen 

Here peals the people's voice, nor can entomb 


Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection 
Awaits it, each new meeting or election. 

"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; here 

people pay 
But what they please; and if that thing be 


'Tis only that they love to throw away 
Their cash, to shew how much they have a 


Here laws are all inviolate; none lay 
Traps for the traveller; every highway's 



Here" he was interrupted by a knife, 
With " your money or your life!" 

These freeborn sounds proceeded from four 

In ambush laid, who had perceived him 

Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads, 

Had seized the luky hour to reconnoitre; 
lu which the heedless gentleman who gads 

Upon the road, unless he be a fighter, 
May find himself within that isle of riches, 
Exposed to lose his life, as well as breeches. 

Though taken by surprise, and knowing no 
English, Juan readily understood the puirport 
of his assailants. The poet writes: 

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture, 
And being somewhat choleric and sudden, 
I>rew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture, 
And fired it into his assailant's pudding- 
Who fel'l, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture, 
And roar'd out, as he writhed his native mud 

Unto his nearest follower, or henchman, 

Oh, Jack! I'm floored by that 'ere . . . French- 

But Jack and has accomplices thought fit to 
run away, leaving their wounded comrade with 
the enemy. By this time the friends of Juan 
had gathered round, and preparations were 
made to bandage the wound. 

But ere they could perform this pious duity, 
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my 

Oh! for a glass of gin! We've missed our 


Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel 
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and 

The drops fell from his death-wound, and he 

drew ill, 

His breath he from his swelling throat untied 
A kerchief, crying, "Give Sal that!" and died. 

Lack of further space precludes from giving 
more, but this extract enables us perhaps to 
form some idea of what sort of reputation 
Shooter's-hill had at the time Lord Byron 




The interesting tower which peeps out from 
among the trees on Shooter's Hill, making a 
picturesque feature in the landscape, is such 
a well-known landmark, and the cause of so 
much inquiry as to what it ie, and why it is 
there, that we will devote this chapter to the 
historical event which it helps to commem- 
orate. We have already alluded to it briefly 
in the account of Sir William James, whom we 
have included amongst the historical dead who 
sleep in Eltham Churchyard. 

In a number of "The Mirror," printed in 
1828, we get the following account of the 
Tower, as it existed then: 

"Severn Droog Castle consists of three floors. 
In the lower rooms are several Indian weapons, 
armour, &c., brought from Severn Droog in 
1755, by Commodore James, as trophies of his 
victory. The different stories are neatly fitted 
up, and on the ceiling of the first, in six com- 
partments, are several views of the fleet and 
fortress on the day of assault. The summit is 
embattled with turrets at the angles. From 
the windows and roof the visitor is gratified 
with extensive and beautiful views of a great 
part of Kent, Surrey, and Essex, with the 
Metropolis and River Thames. 

"This tower was erected by Lady James, the 
wife of Sir William James, who resided at 
Park Place Farm, Eltham. Over the entrance 
there is a broad tablet of stone, upon which 
is cut the following inscription: 

This Building 

was erected MDCCLXXXIV., by the 

Representative of the late 


To commemorate that gallant officer's 

Achievement in the East Indies, 
During his Command of the Company's 

Marine Forces in those Seas: 
And in a particular manner to record the 

Conquest of 

On the Coast of Malabar, 
Which fell to his superior valour and 

able conduct 
On the 2nd day of April, MDCCLV. 

The Story of Severndroog Is set forth in 
Orme's " Hindostan " as follows : 

"Conagee Angria was a notorious freebooter, 
belonging to the Morattoe pirates, who had 
declared war by sea and laud against the Grand 
Mogul, because he had employed an admiral 
to protect hie Mahometan subjects against 
their depredations. 

By means of his prowess during this war, 
Conagee Angria had raised himself from a 
private man, not only to be Commander-in- 
Chief of the Morattoe fleet, but was entrusted 
with the government of Severndroog, one of the 
strongest holds belonging to the Saha Rajah, or 
King of the Morattoes, and, having seduced 
others of his fellow-subjects, set up a govern- 
ment against his sovereign along the sea-coast 
to the extent of one hundred and twenty miles, 
and an inland country of between twenty and 
thirty miles towards the mountains. 

The successors of this fortunate robber took 
the name of Angria, and so fortified them- 
selves that the rajah consented to let them 
have peaceable possession upon acknowledging 
his sovereignty, and paying a small tribute. 



In the course of fifty years, this state, by 
means of piracies exercised indiscriminately 
upon ships of all nations, had rendered itself 
so formidable to the European traders to India 
that the British East India Company alone 
were compelled to keep up a maritime force, 
at the annual expense of .50,000, as a check 
upon Angria, and a protection to their ships 
and colonies. 

Attempts had frequently been made by differ- 
ent nations to overturn this piratical system, 
but Angria's successes had made him insolent. 
He threw off hie allegiance to his sovereign, 
and slit the noses of his ambassadors who came 
to demand the tribute. Under these conditions 
the Rajah made proposals to the British to 
attack this common enemy with their united 

Commodore James, at that time Commander- 
in-Chief of the Company's marine force, sailed 
on the 22nd of March, 1775, in the Protector, of 
forty-two guns, with a ketch of sixteen guns, 
and two bomb-vessels, but such was the ex- 
aggerated opinion of Angria's strongholds that 
the Presidency instructed him not to expose 
the Company's vessels to any risk by attacking 
them, but only to blockade the harbours whilst 
the Morattoe army carried on their operations 
by land. 

Three days after, the Morattoe fleet, consist- 
ing of seven grabs and sixty gallivats, came out 
of Choul, having on board ten thousand land 
forces; and the united fleets proceeded to 
Comara Bay, where they anchored, in order to 
permit the Morattoes to get their meal on 
shore, since they are prohibited by their reli- 
gion from eating or washing at sea. 

Departing from .hence, they anchored again 
about flfttem miles to the north of Severndroog, 
where Rama-gee Punt, with the troops, disem- 
barked, in order to proceed the rest of the 
way by land. 

Commodore James, now receiving intelligence 
that the enemy's fleet lay at anchor in the 
harbour of Severndroog, represented to the 
admiral of the Morattoe fleet that by proceed- 
ing immediately thither they might come upon 
them in the night, and so effectually blockade 

them in the harbour that few or none would be 
able to escape. 

The Morattoe seemed highly to approve the 
proposal, but had not authority enough over 
his officers to make any of them stir before 
the morning, when the enemy, discovering 
them under sail, immediately slipped their 
cables and put to sea. 

The Commodore then flung out the signal for 
a general chase, but as little regard was paid 
to this as to his former intention; for, although 
the vessels of the Morattoes had hitherto sailed 
better than the English, such was their terror 
of Angria'e fleet that they all kept behind, and 
suffered the protector to proceed alone almost 
out of their sight. 

The enemy, on the other hand, exerted them- 
selves with uncommon industry, flinging over- 
board all their lumber to lighten their vessels, 
and not only crowding on all the sails they 
could bend, but also banging up their garments 

and even their turbans to catch any breath of 

The Protector, however, came within gun- 
shot of some of the sternmost; but, the evening 
approaching, Commodore James gave over the 
chase, and returned to Severndroog, which he 
had passed several miles. 

Here he found Rama-gee Punt, with the 
army besieging, as they said, the three forts on 
the mainland, but they were firing only from 
one gun, a four-pounder, at the distance of 
two miles, and even at this distance, the troops 
did not think themselves safe without digging 
pits, in which they sheltered themselves, 
covered up to the chin, from the enemy's fire. 

The Commodore, judging from these opera- 
tions that they would never take the forts, de- 
termined to exceed the instructions which ho 
had received from the Presidency, rather than 
expose the English arms to the disgrace they 
would suffer if an expedition in which they 
were believed by Angria to have taken so 
great a share should miscarry. 

The next day, the 2nd of April, he began to 
bombard and cannonade the fort of Severn- 
droog, situated on the island, but, finding that 
the walls on the western side, which he 



attacked, were mostly cut out of the solid rock, 
he changed his station to the north-east, be- 
tween the island and the mainland, where, 
whilst one of his broadsides plied the north- 
eastern bastions of this port, the other fired on 
Fort Goa, the largest of those upon the main- 

The bastions of Severndroog, however, were 
so high that the Protector could only point 
her upper tier to them, but, being anchored 
within a hundred yards, the musketry in the 
round tops drove the enemy from their guns, 
and by noon the parapet of the north-east bas- 
tion was in ruins, when a shell from the bomb- 
vessel set fire to a thatched roof, which the 
garrison, dreading the Protector's musketry, 
were afraid to extinguish. 

The blaze spreading fiercely at this dry 
season of the year, all the buildings of the fort 
were soon in flames, and amongst them a maga- 
zine of powder blew up. On this disaster, the 
inhabitants, men, women, and children, with 
the greater part of the garrison, in all near 
one thousand persons, ran out of the fort, and 
embarking in seven or eight boats, attempted 
to make their escape to Fort Goa; but they 
were prevented by the English ketches, who 
took them all. 

The Protector now directed her fire only 
against Fort Goa, when the enemy, after suffer- 
ing a severe cannonade, hung out a flag as a 
signal of surrender; but whale the Morattoes 

were marching to take possession of it thn 
Governor, perceiving that the Commodore had 
not yet taken possession of Severndroog, got 
into a boat, with some of his trusty men, and 
crossed over to the island, hoping to be able 
to maintain the fort until he should receive 
assistance from Dabul, which is in sight of 

Upon this, the Protector renewed her fire 
upon Severndroog, and the Commodore, finding 
that the Governor wanted to protract the de- 
fenoe until night, when it was not to be doubted 
that some boats from Dabul would endeavour 
to throw succours into the place, he landed 
half his seamen, under cover of the fire of the 
ships, who with great intrepidity, ran up to 
the gate, and, cutting down the sallyport with 
their axes, forced their way into it, on which 
the garrison surrendered. 

The other two forts on the mainland had, by 
this time, hung out flags of truce, and the 
Morattoes took possession of them. This was 
all the work of one day, in which the spirited 
resolution of Commodore James destroyed the 
timorous prejudices which had for twenty 
years been entertained of the impracticability 
of reducing any of Angria's fortified harbours." 

It was in recognition of this signal service 
of Commodore James, that he was honoured 
by being made a baronet, and it was in 
memory of the battle that, after Sir William's 
death, Dame James erected the tower, which 
is so familiar a feature of the landscape. 

JOHN LILBURNE (from Print 1649 in British Museum). 
By permission of Messrs. MACMILLAN & Co. 



About the middle of the seventeenth century a 
familiar figure in the rural lanes of Eltham was 
the Quaker, John Lilburne. Prematurely old, 
for he was only forty-three when he died, 
dressed in the quaint and quiet Quaker's garb, 
those who knew him not would scarcely have 
recognised in that peaceful-looking person the 
turbulent colonel, the restless political agitator 
who had proved equally troublesome to the 
Government of Charles and to that of Crom- 
well, and whose name was a by-word from one 
end of the kingdom to the other. 

What a number of exciting experiences had 
been crowded into his short ife, since the time 
when, as a boy, John Lilburne used to roam 
the fields between Greenwich and Eltham! 

What sufferings he had undergone! Persecu- 
tions he probably regarded them, for John con- 
ceived that he was fighting for a righteous 
cause. The irrepressible pamphleteer and 
politician had suffered imprisonment, with all 
the horrors that characterised that form of 
punishment in those days, the pillory, and exile 
from his native land. On at least one occasion 
he narrowly escaped execution, and it was only 
the force of circumstances which caused him to 
retire to Edtham, tired and disappointed, where, 
by the grace of Cromwell, he was allowed to 
remain in peace, so long as he behaved himself 
and where, in his new r61e of a Quaker, he lived 
out his last years. 

We can only briefly relate the principal oir- 



cumstances in the life of this very notorious 
and rather eccentric citizen of Eltham, for hie 
life would really be the history of the political 
unrest and agitation of the days of Charles I. 
and Cromwell. But we will relate some of the 
episodes, as they afford us a pretty vivid glimpse 
of life in those eventful years. 

"(Free- born John," as posterity has nick- 
named him, although an Eltham man in the 
latter years of his life, was of Greenwich by 
birth, where he first saw the light in 1614. 

In hie youth he read Fox's " Book of 
Martyrs" and the writings of the Puritan 
Divines, and by this means became imbued 
with the Puritanism which a few years later 
not only effected a tremendous influence upon 
his own life, but also upon the life of the 

In 1636, that is when 22 years of age, the 
impressionable John became acquainted with 
John Bastwick, who was then a prisoner in the 
Gatehouse. This acquaintance resulted in Lil- 
burne's having a hand in the printing of Baet- 
wick's "Litany," with the further result of his 
having to fly to Holland to avoid arrest. 

He, however, did not long remain abroad, but 
returned in December, 1637, when he was seized 
and brought before the Star Chamber, on the 
charge of printing and circulating unlicensed 
books, more especially Prynne's " News from 
Ipswich." For this offence he was fined .500, 
whipped, pilloried, and imprisoned until he 
was in a mood to be obedient. 

When liberated he soon entered upon the 
"war-path," for in April we find him again 
under arrest, and whipped from the Fleet 
Prison to Palace Yard. But repression of this 
kind only provoked him to greater activity. 
From the pillory he loudly denounced the 
bishops, scattered a number of Bastwick's tracts 
amongst the crowd, and when he absolutely 
refused to be silent, was finally gagged by the 
officers. He was taken back from the pillory to 
the prison, where he was treated with great 

Notwithstanding his confinement, he con- 
trived to write, and to get printed, some of his 

stirring tracts. One of these was an apology 
for separation from the Church of England, 
entitled, "'Come out of her, my people"; an- 
other was an account of his own imprisonment, 
styled, "The Work of the Beast." It must be 
borne in mind that Lilburne at this time was 
only a youth of little more than twenty-three 
years of age. 

Now comes a petition from Lilburne to the 
Long Parliament. It was presented by Crom- 
well, and the Commons voted that Lilburne's 
sentence was "illegal and against the liberties 
of the subject," and also, " bloody, wicked, 
cruel, barbarous, and tyrannical." 

The same day, Lilburne, who had been re- 
leased at the beginning of the Parliament, was 
brought before the House of Lords, charged 
with speaking against the King, but the wit- 
nesses disagreed, and the charee was dismissed. 

A little while after we find John directing 
his energies into another channel. He went 
into business as a brewer. In our own day it 
is difficult to associate the puritan agitator 
with an avocation of this kind. But he did not 
stick to the business long, for a few years after 
the Civil War broke out, and John Lilburne 
was not slow in getting a commission in Lord 
Brooke's foot regiment. In his new capacity he 
fought in the battle of Edge-hill, but had the 
ill-luck to be taken prisoner at the fight at 
Brentford, November 12th, 1642. John was 
now put upon his trial at Oxford on the serious 
charge of high treason and taking up arms 
against the King. It would have gone hard 
with him, and Eltham would not have known 
him in after years, nor would thie history of 
him have been set down, had not the Parlia- 
ment intervened by a declaration, on December 
17th, 1642, threatening immediate reprisals if 
Lilburne were put to death. So he was let off. 

A few months after he obtained his liberty 
by exchange, and Lord Essex, the Parliamen- 
tary General, gave him .300 by way of recogni- 
tion of his undaunted conduct at his trial, and 
he says that "he was offered a place of profit 
and honour, but preferred to fight, though it 
was for 8d. a day, until he saw the peace and 
liberty of England restored." 



The 6ame year (1643) he took part in the cap- 
ture of Lincoln, and was made a Major. Next 
year he was transferrtd to Manchester's " Own 
Dragoons," with th rank of Lieutenant- 
Colonel. But he left the Army in 1645, finding 
that he could not enter the "new model" 
without taking the oath. 

Colonel Lilburne obtained a great reputation 
for courage, and seems to have been a good 
officer, but was unlucky in his military career. 
He spent six months in prison at Oxford. He 
was plundered of all that he had at Rupert's 
relief at Newark. He was shot through the 
arm at Walton Hall, and received but little pay 
for his military services. 

Moreover, he succeeded in quarrelling, first 
with Colonel King, and then with the Earl of 
Manchester, both of whom he regarded as luke- 
warm, incapable and treacherous. He did his 
best to get Colonel King cashiered, and was one 
of the authors of the charge of high-treason 
against him. The dispute with Manchester was 
due to Lilburne's capturing Tickhill Castle 
against Manchester's orders; and subsequently 
Lilburne was one of Cromwell's witnesses 
against Lord Manchester. 

Now we find our "Free-born John" engaged 
in a quarrel with two of his quandom fellow 
sufferers. In 1645 he addressed a letter to his 
old friend, Prynne, attacking the intolerance of 
the Presbyterians, and claiming freedom of con- 
science and freedom of speech for the Indepen- 
dents. Prynne, bitterly incensed, procured a 
vote of the Commons, summoning Lilburne 
before the Commons for examination, but when 
he appeared the committee discharged him with 
a caution. A few months after, Prynne a 
second time caused Lilburne, to be brought 
before the committee, this time on a charge of 
publishing unlicensed pamphlets, but he was 
again discharged. 

Then Prynne vented his malice in two 
pamphlets against Colonel Lilburue : "A fresh 
discovery of prodigious wandering stars and 
fire-brands," and " The Liar Confounded," to 
which the gallant Colonel replied by means of 
a pamphlet, " Innocency and truth justified. " 

Meanwhile Lilburne was ineffectually en- 
deavouring to obtain from the House of Com- 

mons compensation for his suffering. Cromwell 
supported him. But his chances of obtaining 
what he wanted were entirely destroyed by a 
new indiscretion. He was overheard relating 
in conversation some scandalous charges against 
Speaker Lenthal. His old associates, Colonel 
King and Bastwick, reported the matter to the 
Commons, and Lilburne was arrested. 

When brought before the committee, he 
refused to answer the questions put to him, 
unless the cause of his arrest was specified, 
saying that their proceeding was contrary to 
Magna Charta and the privileges of a free- 
born denizen of England. He was sent to prison, 
from whence he managed to issue pamphlets, 
giving an account of his examination and 
arrest, in which he attacked, not only several 
members by name, but the authority of the 
House of Commons itself. For this offence he 
was sent to Newgate, and the Recorder of Lon- 
don was ordered to proceed against him at 
Quarter Sessions. 

This, however, did not come off, for the 
charge against the Speaker having been in- 
vestigated, and found groundless, no further 
proceedings were taken against John Lilburue, 
who was released in October. 

Soon after he petitioned the Commons for 
arrears of pay, but as he refused to swear to 
his accounts, he did not succeed. His case 
against the Star Chamber was pleaded before 
the House of Lords by Bradshaw, and the 
Upper House transmitted to the Commons an 
Ordinance, granting him .2,000 in compensa- 
tion for his sufferings. But the ordinance hung 
fire in the Commons, and in the meantime 
Prynne and the committee of accounts alleged 
that Lilburne owed the State .2,000, and 
Colonel King claimed .2,000 damages for 

In this dilemma, John wrote and printed a 
letter to Judge Reeve, before whom Colonel 
King's claim was to be tried, explaining his 
embarrassments, and asserting the justice of his 
cause. Incidentally he was indiscreet enough to 
reflect upon the Earl of Manchester, observing 
that if Cromwell had prosecuted his charge 
properly, Manchester would have lost his 



For this Lilburae was at once summoned 
before the House of Lords, Manchester himself 
occupying the chair. Lilburne refused to 
answer questions, or acknowledge the jurisdic- 
tion of the Lords. So he was committed to 
Newgate, where he continued to defy the 
authorities. To avoid obedience to their sum- 
mons he barricaded himself in his cell, refused 
to kneel, or take off his hat, and stopped his 
ears when the charge against him was read. 

The Lords sentenced him to be fined ,4,000, 
to be imprisoned for seven years in the Tower, 
and to be declared for ever incapable of holding 
any office, civil or military. 

This sentence was followed by the inevitable 
appeal to the Commons, as the "only lawful 
judges as a Commoner of England, or free-born 

The Commons appointed a committee to con- 
sider the case, but it presented so many legal 
and political difficulties that their report was 

Lilburno now appealed to the people by means 
of an almost interminable series of pamphlets, 
and in the course of his campaign he found 
time to attack abuses in the election of city 
magistrates, to bitterly assail the monarchy, 
and to quarrel with his gaolers about the ex- 
orbitant fees demanded of prisoners in the Tower. 
Finally, he abused the Commons for delaying 
Ida release, and again was called before the com- 
mittee to answer for his scandalous pamphlets. 

Despairing of help from the Commons, he 
now appealed to Cromwell and the Army. The 
agitators took up his case, and demanded hie 
release as one of the conditions of settlement 
between the Army and Parliament. 

Lilburne was now allowed to argue his case 
before the Commons, who ordered that .he 
should have liberty to come abroad from day 
to day to attend the committee and to instruct 
his counsel, without a keeper. 

Before hie release, Lilburne offered, if he 
could obtain a reasonable proportion of justice 
to leave the kingdom, and not to return as long 
as the present troubles lasted. 

But he had suspicions of Cromwell, whom he 

very soon regarded as a " treacherous and self- 
seeking intriguer." The negotiations of the 
Army leaders with the King, and the sugges- 
tions of royal fellow prisoners in the Tower, Jed 
him to credit the story that Cromwell had sold 
himself to the King. Even Cromwell's breach 
with the King in Nov., 1647, which Lilburne 
attributed solely to the fear of assassination, 
did not remove his suspicions, and the simul- 
taneous suppression of the "levelling" party 
in the Army seemed conclusive proof of Crom- 
well's tyrannical designs. 

Soon afterwards we find the gallant Colonel 
allying himself with the London " Levellers " 
and the mutinous part of the Army, and raising 
the cry of " Down with the House of Lords." 

It is impossible within the compass of this 
article to follow the tumultuous career of this 
remarkable man through the years that fol- 
lowed. His frequent arraignmente, imprison- 
ments, intrigues, and endless pamphleteering 
campaigns provide enough material for a book. 
It is curious to note that he refused to agree 
with the trial of Charles I. Though holding 
that the King deserved death, he thought he 
should have been tried by a jury, instead of the 
High Court of Justice. 

This restless man continued his political in- 
trigues and activities after the execution of the 
King, and when Cromwell held supreme power. 
At length he was banished from England for 
life. But from his place of retirement in Hol- 
land he could not refrain from issuing more 
and more pamphlets. 

News of the expulsion of the Bump Parlia- 
ment in 1653 excited Lilburne's hopes of re- 
turning from exile. Counting on the placable 
disposition of Cromwell, he boldly applied to 
him for a pass to return to England. It was 
not granted. So John came back without one. 
He was duly arrested, and sent to Newgate. 
Then followed his trial at the Old Bailey. 

Popular feeling was on his side. Parliament 
was petitioned on his behalf. Crowds flocked to 
see him. Threats were made to rescue him. 
Tickets were circulated with the legend: 

"And what, shall then honest John Lilburne 



Three score thousand shall know the reason 

Cromwell tilled London with troops, but the 
soldiers shouted and sounded their trumpets 
when they heard that Lilburne was acquitted. 

He was transferred to the Tower; thence to 
Jersy, where he remained for a time. Finally 
he was brought back to England, and became a 
Quaker, much to the surprise of Cromwell him- 
self, who, when satisfied that friend John really 
intended to live quietly at Eltham, granted him 
a pension of forty shillings a week. He died in 
Eltham village in 1657, and was buried at 

A critic, writing of Colonel Lilburne, says: 
" His political importance it is easy to explain. 
In a revolution, where others argued about the 
respective rights of King and Parliament, he 

spoke always of the rights of the people. His 
dauntless courage and powers of speech made 
him the idol of the mob. He was ready to 
assail any abuse, at any cost to himself, but 
his passionate egotism made him a dangeroun 
champion, and he continually sacrificed public 
causes to personal resentment. 

In his controversies he was credulous, care- 
lees about the truth of his charges, and in- 
satiably vindictive. He attacked in turn all 
constituted authority Lords, Commons.Council 
of State, and Council of Officers and quarrelled 
in succession with every ally. 

His epitaph, written in 1657, runs thus: 
"Is John departed, and is Lilburne gone! 
Farewell to Lilburne, and farewell to John ; 
But lay John here. Lay Lilburne here about. 
For if they ever meet they will fall out." 




In the brief history of Sir John Shaw, which 
we gave in an earlier chapter, we referred to 
the building of Eltham Lodge, the fine old 
mansion which stands in the park, and now 
used as the headquarters of the Eltham Golf 

Sir John Shaw had supplied funds to 
Charles II. when that prince was obliged to 
live abroad during the administration of the 
Commonwealth. After his return, however, 
and when he was made King of England, he 
rewarded his benefactor, Sir John Shaw, by 
granting him the lease of the Manor of Eltham 
on easy terms. 

In the interesting little book on " Eltham 
Golf Club House," written by the Rev. T. N. 
Rowsell, a former Vicar of Holy Trinity 
Church, and published 14 years ago, but now 
out of print, we get a description of this lease, 
which runs as follows : 

"I have before me as I write," says Mr. 
Eowsell, "in excellent preservation, the 
original lease of the Manor of Eltham, granted 
by the trustees of the Queen (Queen Henrietta, 
the mother of Charles II.), to Sir John Shaw 
and another. It is splendidly emblazoned in 
black and gold, with the portrait of her 
Majesty, her own signature in her own hand- 
writing, with her full titles, 'by the Grace of 
God, Queen of England, Scotland, France, 
and Ireland, Henrietta Marie.' Also the 
signatures of the Earl of St. Alban's, Lord 
Chamberlain; Sir Kenelm Digby, Chancellor; 
Sir Peter Balle, Attorney-General; and others 
of celebrity. It assigns the Manor and sets out 
the boundaries distinctly, from Southend, 
Eltham, to Home Park, Lee, embracing the 
old 'ruinated' Palace (Eltham Court), and all 
rights of fishing, hawking, hunting, &c., for 
the sum of .9 per annum, with 20s. additional 



for the old house. It is true," continues Mr. 
Eowsell, "that a fine of ,3,700 was appended 
to this ; but even so, at the then rate of money, 
the payment demanded was nothing like 
equivalent to the value. In reading 'between 
the lines ' we may see how it helped to clear 
off some of the score between Charles and his 

Having obtained possession of the Manor 
on a long lease. Sir John Shaw proceeded to 
the building of the present house, about the 
year 1663. We may fix this date pretty 
accurately from an entry in the diary of John 
Evelyn. On July 14th, 1664, the famous 
diarist wrote thus : 

" I went to take leave of the two Mister 
Howards, now going for Paris, and brought 
them to Bromley; thence to Eltham to see Sir 
John Shaw's new house now building. The 
place is pleasant, if not too wett, but the house 
is not well contrived; especially the roofe, and 
rooms, too low pitched, and the kitchen where 
the cellars should be ; the orangerie and aviarie 
handsome, and a very large plantation about 

Notwithstanding this somewhat depressing 
description by Evelyn, there was no doubt that 
as mansions went in those days, Sir John 
Shaw's new dwelling was regarded as an im- 
posing structure, and worthy of the loyal 
knight who took up his residence there. 

Extending from the house towards Chisle- 
hurst was a long avenue, which was known 
as the Chase. This avenue was probably in 
existence at the time, for it was said that 
centuries before, King John of France, when 
in voluntary exile here, used it as an exercising 

To quote again from the charming little 
book alluded to we get a vivid glimpse of the 
times of Sir John Shaw. In reference to the 
sport Mr. Rowsell says, " One of the ponds 
bears the name of the " Pike Pond," though 
no one of the present generation has ever seen 
the ghost of a pike on it. The small stream 
by Mottingham is said to have been full of 
trout; and there were heronries within easy 
reach, which would, doubtless, supply plenty 

of quarry for the hawks or falcons. London- 
not the huge, smoky, bustling nation which 
we now call by that name, but the London 
of Evelyn and Pepys, the London of the 
Restoration; fair without but foul within, 
with its glittering veneer of wit, beauty, and 
gaiety concealing its corruption was only 
nine miles away; a right royal 'pleasaunce' 
must this have been, a charming resort for 
the jaded courtier, or the faded Court beauty, 
or for those rarer souls of finer and nobler 
mould who loathed the filthiness of the age, 
and would fain get away, at least for a time, 
into a purer atmosphere. Some such friends 
one would hope, Sir John Shaw must have 
had, for he was a staid merchant, and held 
much aloof from the Court." 

The environment of the Lodge has greatly 
changed since the days of Sir John Shaw. 
It is a long step from conditions such as those 
described in the last paragraph to those 
associated with the business of a Golf Club 
House. But the old building possesses many 
distinguishing features which recall the days 
of two centuries ago, and contains objects of 
considerable antiquarian interest. 

The Rev. T. N. Rowsell deals with many 
of these matters in his characteristic way, and 
as his book is now out of print we cannot do 
better than read what he has to say about 

An old picture was found in one of the 
upper rooms which would seem to have been 
a rather crudely drawn representation of the 
house as it originally appeared. " As a work 
of art it leaves much to be desired; but, while 
we marvel at the curious notion of perspective, 
and admire the simpering ladies and gentle- 
men, who disport themselves on the canvas, 
we can scarcely help trying to conjure up a 
vision of the conditions of life in which the 
scene was laid." 

In comparing this picture with the house 
as it now presents itself, many changes are 
apparent. Such changes mark the progress of 

" There are persons still living who recollect 
the roof being entirely stripped and renovated; 



in place of the old red tiles and dormer 
windows, the present clumsey top of slates 
was substituted, and the chimneys were 'im- 
proved ' with the present heavy stacks. The 
two old turrets which are shewn in the picture 
are gone, if they ever existed, and no trace 
remains. But the old walls, some 3ft. thick, 
and the old foundations, strong as adamant, 
and the bold proportions of the solid Dutch 
style remain unchanged, defying time and 
elements, and giving us a house ' four-square 
to all the winds that blow.' " 

was brought to perfection a little later by 
Grinling Gibbons. And the beams which run 
athwart the ceilings of the lofty rooms who 
ever saw the like! They are enough to make 
the hair of a 'jerry-builder' turn grey with 
envy. ' Hearts of oak were our ships, hearts 
of oak were our men,' and a good deal of the 
same material went to the making up of our 
houses, it appears, in the old days." 

Mr. Rowsell, who was a frequent visitor at 
the house during the lifetime of the aged Mrs. 


In the room which is now devoted to 
billiards it will be noticed that the 'oak-leaf,' 
a symbol so intimately associated with King 
Charles, is represented in the mouldings, 
while over the huge fire place "the name of 
the first owner is carved solidly into the upper 
cornice of the woodwork." 

Our attention is specially directed to the 
" lordly old staircase." " What a sense of 
space ! " Mr. Rowsell writes enthusiastically. 
" What a command of timber ! What massive 
balustrades ! The carving is not elaborate, 
but it is fine and bold, of that style which 

Wood, the last tenant, prior to its occupancy 
by the Golf Club, and had ample opportunities 
of studying the building closely, has much to 
say about the old tapestry which hangs upon 
the walls of the billiard room. 

There is a supposition that these tapestries 
were brought from the old Palace after the 
Parliamentary Survey of 1649. Mr. Rowsell 
strongly combats this idea, and as his com- 
ments are so interesting, and the theories he 
advances as to their actual origin are so 
probable, we may be forgiven, perhaps, in 
quoting his views at length. 



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" The most interesting feature of the Lodge 
by far is the collection of tapestries which 
surround the walls of the billiard-room. I 
find, by the way, in the second lease after 
the original one, which is still in the possession 
of the Office of Crown Lands, that this room 
was even then called the 'billiard-room,' and 
it is curious that it should have reverted after 
the lapse of so many years to its original pur- 
pose. This room was the only sitting-room of 
the aged Mrs. Wood during all the closing 
years of her life, and she loved to call atten- 
tion to those tapestries round the walls, long, 
long after she herself had ceased to be able 
to see them. 

When she came with her husband to inspect 
the house for the first time those walls, she 
said, were covered with a common pattern of 
wall-paper. While they were discussing the 
question of a new and better paper to replace 
this, the accidental discovery by one of the 
party of a small hole in the surface led to the 
stripping of the walls and the disclosure of 
those fine old tapestries buried beneath. 
Similar tapestries, it is said, adorned several 
other of the rooms. I am told by old inhabi- 
tants that they recollect seeing in their youth 
large pieces of similar tapestries used in place 
of carpet upon the floors of cottages in the 
neighbourhood, which had been brought there 
after a sale in the old house. 

" Tradition says that these were a gift from 
Charles II. to Sir John Shaw, at the time 
of the building of the house, and that he had 
brought them from his wanderings, and that 
they were in some way traceable to Spain. 
There is nothing improbable in this story. 

' They are certainly not, what some have 
supposed, a part of the furniture of the old 
palace transferred hither, for, in the first 
place, they are not of sufficient antiquity to be 
a part of the ancient ' Arras'; and in the next 
place the Parliamentary Survey of 1649 speaks 
of the palace being ' out of repair and un- 
tenantable,' and makes no mention of any 
furniture. ( Hasted 's Kent, p. 182.) 

" On the other hand, the work is just of such 
a kind as was turned out by the looms of the 
Low Countries, and may well have owned its 

origin to the teaching of the Spaniards, and 
been inspired by Spanish motives. As to the 
story which they are evidently designed to 
portray, it has always been a puzzle to the 

Then follows an interpretation of the 
pictures, which the writer asks us to accept 
" for what it is worth." 

" There is obviously one common feature 
running through the series of pictures, and 
linking them together into consecutive story; 
and this feature is a piece of fruit, something 
like an apple. Is it the 'Apple of Discord?' 
or is it a ' Love apple? ' or is it not, I venture 
to fancy, a 'Pomegranate?' Now the mean- 
ing of 'Granada' is pomegranate, and Spain 
is the land of the pomegranate, and the pome- 
granate was, and is, the emblem of Granada; 
and the struggle with the Moors for the 
possession of Granada was the most memorable 
thing in Spanish history, and the King and 
Queen of the time, Ferdinand and Isabella, 
were the most conspicuous figures in the 
annals of the country; and everyone knows the 
close connection between Spain and the Low 
Countries, and the way in which the Spanish 
occupation impressed itself upon the arts of 
the Netherlands. 

" Imagine, then, a commission being given 
to the Flemish looms to weave some tapestries 
for Henrietta Maria, Queen, or for her eon, 
Charles II. What subject would they be so 
likely to choose as the history of Granada? 
And is there not enough in those pictures to 
recall that history? 

" There we seem to have a King (may it not 
be Ferdinand?) choosing for himself a Queen, 
Isabella of Castile, and offering her the emblem 
of the State. Another panel gives the pro- 
phetic utterance of a beggar to the King, such 
as is so common in all old histories. Another 
panel is the great battle-piece representing the 
last struggle with the Moors. Another, the 
safe return in triumph, with the fruits of 
success. Further, we come to the more peace- 
ful triumphs of the reign the studious 
Isabella, with globe and books around her, 
holding an interview with Columbus, the King 
and Queen upon their throne granting him his 


first commission for the discovery of America, The house ceased to be associated with the 

and so on. This, at least, appears to me a Shaw family in 1839 when the lease expired. 

reasonable interpretation, and we must remem- , r . ,,, , , , 

Mr. Benjamin ^\ood, the husband of the lady 
ber that these tapestries are but fragments, 

and that if we had the whole before us we lready *** *> came to reside at the 

might be able to follow out the thread with Lod K e in 1838 - The tenants before him were 

more conclusive results." Lord Rivers, Lady Crewe, and Lord Wynford. 



One of the most interesting of the private 
residences of Eltham is Sherard House, the 
quaint Jacobean dwelling next to the Congre- 
gational Church, in the High-street. The front 
of the house has been changed considerably, but 
the elevation towards the garden is, apparently, 
as it was built in the year 1634. It is now 
covered with ivy, and, with the spacious garden, 
suggests the associations which made it known 
ao well amongst the students of botany close on 
two centuries ago. There are many quaint and 
interesting features within doors; notably the 
handsome mantel-pieces of carved oak, which 
date back to the time when the house was 
built. The old oak panelling which sur- 
rounded the library is now covered with paper, 
and the quaint, open fire-place, where the logs 
once burned across the dog-irons to warm the 
feet of James Sherard, is now substituted by a 
modern grate. 

But the library contains a priceless work, in 
the two great volumes, " Hortus Elthamensis," 
which represent the labours of Sherard in the 
field of botany, and are a lasting memorial to 
his long and earnest study. These massive 
books were published in the year 1732, are 
printed in Latin, beautifully and copiously 
illustrated, and strongly bound in leather. 
They are very rare, and though out of date, so 
far as botany is concerned, they are regarded 
with reverence by students of that fascinating 
science, for at the time of their production they 
were the greatest works on plant life that had 
been produced by English botanists. 

There is consistency, too, in their being pre- 
served in this room by Mrs. Dobell, the present 
occupier of the house, for in all probability, it 

was within those four walls, overlooking the 
beautiful garden, which in his day had attained 
a world-wide fame, that James Sherard wrote 
them. And we may easily imagine that earnest 
student, along with his friend, Dilennius, a 
botanist of European fame, engaged here upon 
their work of research and record. 

By the kindness of Mrs. Dobell, we are able 
to give some particulars of the early occupiers 
of this interesting house. The date of its erec- 
tion 1634 is fixed by the engraving upon the 
water-pipe, high up upon the wing at the east 
end, facing the street. 

In 1699 it seems to have been occupied by a 
Mr. Uvedal, who kept a school here, and is 
said to have been interested in botany. 

Dr. James Sherard bought the house, and 
came to reside here in 1718-19. Dr. William 
Sherard, a distinguished brother of James, died 
here in 1728, and is said to have been buried at 
Eltham. It was he who founded the Botanical 
Gardens at Oxford. 

The Rev. Peter Pinnell, who was Vicar of 
Eltham from 1749 to 1783, and was the imme- 
diate predecessor of the Rev. Shaw Brooke, 
resided here, and also kept a school. 

The Dorrington family occupied the house for 
a long time, and Mr. Edgeworth also dwelt 
there in the first half of last century. He was a 
relative of the famous writer, Maria Edge- 
worth, whose books were so highly prized by 
our grandmothers when they were girls. 

The next occupant was Mr. Jeffreys. He was 
followed, in 1857, by Mr. Henry William Dobell, 
and Mrs. Dobell, hie widow, is still residing 




Now that botany is becoming eo universal a 
etudy, our young Eltham students will no doubt 
like to have a more comprehensive account of 
these two distinguished Eltham scholars, Wil- 
liam and James Sherard. So we will give them 
their history, as it is recounted in the " Gentle- 
man's Magazine" for 1796. 

"William Sherard, LL.D., and Fellow of All 
Souls' College, Oxford. This learned naturalist, 
born at Busby, in Leicestershire, in 1659, was 
better known by the name of Consul Sherard, 
in which capacity he resided from 1701 to 1715 
at Smyrna, where he had a country house at a 
place called Sedekia. It is not yet forgotten as 
the residence of Sherard. In 1749 Hasselquist 
visited this retreat, and viewed with all the 
enthusiasm of a young botanist the spot where 
the " Eegent of the Botanical World," as he 
styles him, spent his summers, and cultivated 
his garden. 

Here Sherard collected specimens of all the 
plants of Natolia and Greece, and began that 
famous Herbarium which at length became the 
most extensive that had ever been seen as the 
work of one man, since it is said finally to have 
contained 12,000 species. And here he is said to 
have begun the much celebrated Pinax, to 
which he continued to make additions through- 
out his life. 

He returned into England in 1718, soon after 
which time he had the degree of Doctor of Laws 
conferred upon him by the University of 

On his returning from a tour on the Con- 
tinent, in 1721, he brought over with him the 
celebrated Dillenius, with whom he had before 
corresponded, and whom he had encouraged to 
prosecute his inquiries into the cryptogamia 
class and in publishing his Plantee Gissenses. 

Sherard had himself been among the earliest 
in England to promote attention to this 
hitherto neglected part of Nature; and in this 
Dillenius had already excelled all who .had 
written before him. Although Dr. Sherard had 
acquired a considerable fortune in Asia, yet he 
lived in the greatest privacy in London, wholly 

immersed in the study of Natural History, 
except when he went to his brother's seat at 

Dr. Dillenius assisted him in his chiof em- 
ployment, the carrying on his Pinax, or collec- 
tion of all the names which had been given by 
botanical writers to each plant. Dr. Sherard 
was in a particular manner the patron of 
Mr. Mark Catesby, and himself affixed the 
Latin names to the plants of "The Natural 
History of Carolina." He died August 12th, 
1728, at Eltham, and by his will gave .3,000 to 
provide a salary for a Professor of Botany at 
Oxford, on condition that Dr. Dillenius should 
be chosen the first professor. He erected the 
edifice at the entrance to the garden for the 
use of the professor, and gave to this establish- 
ment his Botanical Library, his Herbarium and 

Dr. Sherard was among the last of those 
ornaments in England of that era which 
Linnaeus calls the "golden age of botany." 
Having from his earliest years a relish for the 
study of natural history, and in his youth 
acquired a knowledge of English botany, his 
repeated tours to the Continent, and his long 
residence in the East afforded ample scope for 
his improvement, and the acquisition of 
affluence, joined to his learning and agreeable 
qualities, rendered him, after his return home, 
a liberal and zealous patron of the science and 
of those who cultivated it. Some manuscripts 
of Dr. Sherard's were presented to the Royal 
Society by Mr. Ellis in the year 1766." 

James Sherard, M.D., brother of William 
Sherard, was apprenticed in 1682 to Charles 
Watte, an apothecary, who was curator of the 
Botanical Gardens at Chelsea. Under the guid- 
ance of Watts, he devoted himself to botany, 
but at the same time he worked hard as an 
apothecary, and by many years' practice in 
Mark-lane, London, accumulated an ample 

He purchased estates in Lancashire, and came 
to reside at Eltham in 1718-19, when he bought 
the house now known as Sherard House. It 
is interesting to note that about this time 



Thomas Doggett, the actor, of whom we have 
already written .was living at Eltham. 

Here James Sherard put into practice hie 
knowledge of botany by laying out a garden, 
where he pursued the cultivation of rare and 
valuable plants, until the garden became noted 
as one of the finest in England. It was the 
catalogue of the plants grown here which 
was the subject of the two noted books, 
"Hortus Elthamensis," we have already 
alluded to. 

He was a singularly versatile man. In addi- 
tion to his accomplishment as a botanist, he 
was aleo ail accomplished amateur musician 
and violinist. He is said to have composed 
"twenty-four sonatas and twelve pieces for 
the violin, violoncello, and bass, extended for 
the harpsichord." 

The University of Oxford conferred upon him 
the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine, and 
the College of Physicians admitted him to their 
Fellowship without examination, and without 
the payment of fees. It is recorded that the 
University expected a legacy from him, hut 
were disappointed by his dying on February 
12th, 1738, without his having left them, any- 
thing by his will. His age at death was 72 

He was buried at Evington, in Leicestershire. 

In !fotes to Illustrations of Literary 
Anecdotes, by J. Nioholls an old book there 
are printed a number of letters from William 
Sherard to Dr. Richardson, in which are 
frequent references to Eltham. We will tran- 
scribe a few of these: 

" London, July 28th, 1719 .... My brother's 
business will not permit him to stay long out 
of town, so that I am obliged to stay most of my 
time at Eltham to look after the workmen.' 

The following may interest local botanists: 
"London, January 20th, 1719-20. Dear sir, 
Though I have often remembered you and 
drank your good health in an evening after 
feasting on your kind present, yet I have not 
had eo much time by daylight as to consider 
and compare your curious collection of mosses 
a I could wish, having been most of my time 

at Eltham. I go thither again next week, with 
my brother, and design one day each week to 
make an excursion to look after mosses, but 
cannot expect much success. If I meet with 
anything new yon shall have it. There are 
more of the Polytrichoides kind than I at first 
imagined, but they rarely bear heads, and with- 
out seeing them in that state I cannot dis- 
tinguish whether they be musci or lichens." 

"London, May 10th, 1720. My brother gives 
you his service. He is busy building his green- 
house and two stoves, one at each end, and has 
laid out another." 

(A building supposed to have been one of 
Sherard's greenhouses still exists at the lower 
end of the garden). 

"London, March 28th, 1721, My brother is 
busy at Eltham, building another stove to 
answer that at the east end of the green- 
house Mr. Rand is now with my 

brother at Eltham, and rides to town as oft as 
he pleases, and returns thither at night." 

"London, September 7th, 1721. It is a fort- 
night this day that my brother and I returned 
from our excursion to Paris, by way of Hol- 
land I have brought over with me Dr. 

Dillenius, who has with him most, if not all, of 
his fungi painted, and all his lichens and 

mosses neatly designed My brother 

is at Eltham, busy in looking after his new 
acquisitions and building new stoves." 

"May 12th, 1722 The Doctor (Dil- 

lenixis) has found some new mosses about 
Eltham, but he has not had time to rove 

far My brother has taken Dr. Dil- 

leuius this afternoon to spend the holidays." 

" November 17th, 1722 Dr. Dillenius 

gives you his humble service; we are not idle, 
though now and then I am forced to spare him 
to paint the aloes and other plants that are not 
yet figured, which flower at Eltham, and some- 
times a day to look after fungi and 
mosses " 

(How much these old letters help us to picture 
life in Eltham in those remote days! The next 
shews us Sherard at work. The building 

I 9 A 



referred to is probably the one now in exist- 
ence at the lower end of the garden.) 

"London, February 23rd, 1722-3 My 

brother seldom comes to town; of late, indeed, 
he could not well, his gardener having been in 
Holland, and returned last week, and now the 
season of sowing prevents him. He has built 
a very convenient house to the south of the 
large mulberry tree, divided into two rooms, 
one for raising seed on hot beds, the other for 
keeping plants in Tanners' bark " 

thoughts of seeing you and Madame Richardson 
another year." 

" Eltham, May 3rd, 1725 I thank you 

for your invitation but my old gar- 
dener having left things in the utmost disorder, 
and my new one not understanding much of my 
garden, this pins me down, and obliges me not 
to stir from home this summer " 

"Eltham, August 20th, 1728 I 

presume the public papers may have given you 
an account of my poor brother's death. We 


There are many other letters, full of interest 
in the Eltham Garden, till at last conies the 
following : 

"London, February 20th, 1724-5 My 

brother's gardener has left him in a huff (which 
he will have reason to repent), and he has sent 
to Holland for another " 

We will conclude this chapter with some ex- 
tracts from letters written by Dr. James 
Sherard to Dr. Richardson, full of interest as 
they are to Eltham readers. 

" September 10th, 1720 You are so 

good as to excuse the poor entertainment you 
found at Eltham, but I please myself with the 

buried him last Monday at Eltham; he desired 
to lie where I thought to be buried my- 
self " (Then follows an account of 

his brother's bequest to establish a botany pro- 
fessorship at Oxford, already alluded to.) 

In a subsequent letter, after alluding to the 
legal proceedings on account of his brother's 
bequest, he says: 

" I had determined to give my 

garden to Oxford, in case the University would 
build proper conveniences to keep and preserve 
them; but if we find that their design is to get 
the professorship, and neglect the garden, they 



shall not have one plant, nor the value of one 
halfpenny from me " 

"Eltham, December 5th, 1732 Dr. 

Dillenius has now finished his "Hortus Eltham- 
ensie," and I would take the liberty of making 
you a present of one copy, if I knew how to 
convey it to you. It is a large book; weighs 16 
or 18 pounds." 

It would seem that Dillenius was responsible 
for the beautiful drawings in " Hortus Eltham- 
ensde." The literary work was by James 
Sherard himself. 

There is still another letter, November 9th, 
1739, giving considerable details of the convey- 
ance of the Eltham plants to Oxford, and other 
matters of interest, but lack of space prevents 
our giving more. The concluding words are: 

" I hope next year to see things entirely 
settled, and the garden pretty well furnished, 
though I cannot possibly send all my plants in 
less than two or three years. Dr. Dillenius 
went with me to Oxford. I expect he will 

settle there next spring James 





In the Public Library, Eltham, there hangs 
a portrait of " Charles Caesar, Esq., the last 
Surviving Male Descendant of his very numer- 
ous and eminent Family; Born at Eltham in 
Kent, June 30th, 1697; Died January 19th, 1780; 
Buried at St. Mary le bon." 

The portrait has excited a good deal of in- 
terest, and many inquiries have been made as 
to the identity of this interesting gentleman. 

Charles Coesar was one of a family of ten 
Caesars, most of whom were born at Eltham 
in the latter part of the seventeenth century. 
Their father was another Charles Csesar, who 
was a rather noted politician of his day, being 
M.P. for the town of Hertford in 1700, and 
filling the office of Treasurer of the Navy. 

The family of Caesar was of Italian origin, 
and its ancestors, under the name of Adelmare, 
were nobility residing near Venice. Caesar 
Adelmare, a member of this family, having 
been educated for the medical profession, in 
which he had taken his degree of Doctor, in 
the University of Padua, came to England in 
the year 1550. Italy had at that time a great 
i. MIK- for producing eminent men of that 
science, and he added to the stock of its 
general fame. Having practised largely for 
some time in London, he was appointed a 
ph36ician to Queen Mary; and in the following 
reign was at the head of the medical depart- 
ment at the Court. Many favours were heaped 
upon him, and he became very rich. He was 
the progenitor of the Caesar family in this 

His son Julius Csesar Adelmare dropped the 
final name, and being knighted, was known as 

Sir Julius Caesar. He was born at Tottenham 
in 1557. He was made Master of the Bolls, 
and was a very distinguished judge. He was 
buried in the Chancel of Great St. Helen's, 
Bishopsgate-street, London. 

Another member of the family was Sir 
Thomas Csesar, who became a baron of the Ex- 
chequer. Henry Csesar was Dean of Ely, and 
buried in Ely Cathedral in 1636. 

Sir Charles Csesar, son and heir of Sir Julius, 
was also Master of the Bolls. (Born 1589; died 
1642.). Buried at Bennington in Hertford- 

Eventually, the elder branch of the family 
died out, and the title seems to have gone with 
it. The Eltham Ceesars belonged to a younger 

Mr. Charles Caesar, father <f the gentleman 
whose features are familiar to those who 
frequent the Eltham Public Library, was M.P. 
for Hertford, 1700, and also Treasurer of the 
Navy. He resided in Eltham a good number 
of years, where most of his children were born. 

His conduct in the House of Commons was 
bold, if not intemperate, and became, at least 
on one occasion, the object of a heavy punish- 
ment. On the nineteenth of December, 1705, to 
uee the exact words of the Journals of the 
House, the question being put, that the in- 
grossed Bill from the Lords, intitled an 'Act 
for the better security of her Majesty's person 
and government, and of the succession to the 
Crown of England in the Protestant line,' be 
now read the second time, the House divided," 
and the Bill was carried in the affirmative, Mr. 
Csesar being one of the Tellers for the Noes. 

" Tne Bill, therefore," contiuue the journals, 



" was read a second time and Charles Czesar, 
Esq., upon the debate of the said bill, standing 
up in his place, saying the words following, 
which were directed by the House to be set 
down in writing at the table, viz., 'There is 
a noble Lord, without whose advice the Queen 
does nothing, who in the lat reign was known 
to keep up a constant correspondence with the 
Giurt at St. Germain's.' And the said Mr. 
Caesar endeavom-iug tc excuse himself, and 
being directed to withdraw, and he being with- 
drawn accordingly; 

Hesolved, that the said words are highly dis- 
honourable to her Majesty's person and govern- 

Resolved, that the said Charles Caesar, Esq., 
be, for the said offence, committed prisoner to 
the Tower: 

Ordered, that Mr. Speaker do issue his 
warrant to the Sergeant at Arms attending this 
House, to take into hie custody the body of the 
said Charles Caesar, Esq., and him to deliver 
into the hands of the Lieutenant of her 
Majesty's Tower of London, to be there kept in 
safe custody during the pleasure of this House, 
and also to the Lieutenant of the Tower to 
receive and keep him accordingly." 

The nobleman reflected 011 is elsewhere stated 
to have been the Lord Treasurer Godolphin, and 
the truth of the charge on him, and the other 
leaders of the Whigs in that reign, was subse- 
quently pretty fully established. 

Ae Mr. Caesar's liberation is not recorded in 
the journals, it may certainly be presumed that 
he remained a prisoner till the conclusion of 
the session, which was not till the nineteenth 
of March. This set him at liberty. On the first 
day of the next session, we find him on the 
Committee for framing the address to the 
Queen's speech. His party, however, after a 
long struggle, prevailed, and, on the downfall 
of the Whig administration -n the autumn of 
1710, he was appointed to the office of Treasurer 
of the Navy, in succession to Robert Walpole. 

Dean Swift seems to have been a friend of 
the Caesars, and to have honoured the family 
with the " unreserved freedom of a perfect in- 
timacy." Among his works may be found two 

letters from him to Mrs. Caeear, wife of the 
gentleman of whom we have been writing, a 
lady, saya the editor of Swift's Works, " re- 
markable for her good sense, friendship, and 
politeness, and much esteemed by the nobility 
and gentry, and all people of taste, genius, and 

With the death of Queen Anne, Mr. Csesar's 
party went out of power, and all hope of 
further ministerial advancement was lost. It is 
sad to find that this able and distinguished 
man, now took to gaming. In the end he 
gambled away the greater part of his estates, 
and left his family almost destitute. 

Harris Caesar, his eldest son, was born at 
Eltham, September 30th, 1691. Foreseeing the 
almost total alienation of his inheritance he 
entered holy orders. He obtained the Rectory of 
Kensington. On the very day of his induction 
to the living he caught a cold, while officiating 
at a funeral. This was followed by a rapid 
fever, of which he died, unmarried, in the 
prime of life. 

Charles James Ccrsar, the second son, whose 
portrait hangs in the Public Library, was also 
born at Eltham, on the 30th June, 1697. He is 
said to have borne a remarkable resemblance, 
both in person and features, to the supposed 
eon of King James the Second. 

On one occasion when that unfortunate 
person was suspected to have been in England, 
Mr. Cnesar was so far mistaken for him as to 
have been apprehended, and for a while 
detained in custody. 

He followed no profession, but lived on a 
small part of the wreck of the fortune of which 
he became possessed by the death of his eldest 
brother. In the latter part of his life he was 
deprived of a great part even of that pittance 
by an intimate, for whose payment of a sum of 
money he had become a security. He died in 
1780, and was buried at " St. Mary le bon." 

Henry and Julius, other brothers were born 
at Eltham, but died minors. 


The name of Philipot has been preserved in 
Eltham in connection with the almshoueee in 
the High-street, which were established by the 
will of the younger of that name. Although the 



elder Philipot was not an Eltham man by birth 
he was closely associated with the parish, and 
his wife and eldest daughter were buried in 
Eltham Church. Moreover, he was a dis- 
tinguished Kentish gentleman, and we will 
therefore, give a few notes about him, as well 
as of his sou Thomas, to whom the parish is 
indebted for the Philipot Charity. 

John Philipot was born in 1589, and died in 
1645. His parents were Henry Philpot, and his 
wife was daughter of David Leigh, servant to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury. His place of 
birth was Folkestone, where his father possessed 
considerable property, and had filled the office 
of Mayor of the borough. The father's name 
was " Philpot," but the sou changed it to 
" Philipot." 

John PJiilipot married Susan Glover, one of 
the gentlemen ushers' daily waiters at the Court 
of James 1. Robert Glover uncle to Mistress 
Philipot was Somerset Herald, and probably it 
was he who introduced John to the College of 

John Philipot was " appointed a pursuivant- 
of arms extraordinary, with the title of Blanch 
Lion, in October, 1618, and in the following 
November he was created Rouge Dragon pur- 

It was while occupying this office that he 
was brought into familiar contact with William 
Cainden, the distinguished antiquary, topo- 
grapher, and herald. Camden frequently nomi- 
nated Philipot as his deputy in his visitations. 
In July, J623, the King appointed him bailiff of 
Sandwich, and he also held the position of 
lieutenant or chief gunner at Tilbury Fort, with 
the fee of one shilling per day. 

On another occasion, in 1633, we find that he 
was sent abroad to confer the Order of Knight- 
hood upon William Bosville, records of which 
visit may be found in the Harleian MS, 3,917, at 
the British Museum. 

In 1635 he was again sent on a foreign 
mission, this time to invest Charles Ludovio, 
Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of 
Bavaria, with the Order of the Garter. 

When the Civil War broke out Phili- 
pot arrayed himself on the side of 

the King. He was present at the 
seige of Gloucester, and was the bearer 
of the summons of the King comanding the 
citizens to surrender. Subsequently, he was 
taken prisoner by some of the Parliamentary 
soldiers, in the vicinity of Abingdon, and was 
sent to London as a prisoner, in, or about, 1644. 
But he was soon set at liberty. He died a few 
years after, in London, where he had been liv- 
ing in great obscurity, and was buried within 
the precincts of the Church of St. Benet, St. 
Paul's Wharf. His wife survived him about 
twenty 'years. She was buried in Eltham 
Church in 1664, where her eldest daughter, 
Susan, was also interred. 

John Philipot's principal literary work is, 
"Villare Cantianum ; or Kent surveyed and 
illustrated. Being an exact description of all 
the Parishes, Burroughs, Villages, and other re- 
spective Manners included in the Connty of 
Kent." This work was published by and under 
the name of Thomas Philipot, the author's son, 
"who thus endeavoured dishonestly, to pass it 
off as his own work." Many other works of 
his were published, mostly of an historical or 
topographical character, and some manuscripts 
are still preserved. 

Thomas Philipot, of Eltham fame, was the 
son of the former. There seems some doubt 
as to the exact date of his birth, but we find 
him as a " fellow-commoner " at Cambridge in 
1632-1633, where he graduated as M.A. in 1635. 
Wood says of him, " he was, by those who well 
knew him, esteemed a tolerable poet when 
young, and at riper years well versed in 
matters of divinity, history, and antiquities." 
He was buried at Greenwich on September 30th, 

" By his will, dated llth September, 1680, 
after devising certain premises at Clare Hall, 
Cambridge, for establishing two Kentish 
Scholarships, he left his houses in the town of 
Eltham, and a field, sold in 1866 to the Com- 
missioners of woods and forests for ,650, to 
the Clothworkers Company, to establish six 
almshouses for four people from Eltham and 
two from Chislehurst. allowing them 5 each 
a year. 



Thomas Philipot has left behind him much " Villare Cantianum," which was the work of 
literary work of a historical and philosophical his father, brought down much severe criticism 
character, but the publication, as his own, of upon his head. 

PIKEMAN 1635 (Goo.irich Court). 




Although nearly seventy years have passed 
since the Eev. J. K. Shaw Brooke was laid to 
rest in the great Shaw vault under Eltham 
Church, hie name is still a household word in 
the village, for he was a man greatly revered, 
of strong character, and, holding the office of 
Vicar for the long period of fifty-seven years, 
he has left a mark upon parochial history more 
indelible, perhaps, than that of any preceding 

Of memorials of this village divine, who was 
so affectionately regarded by all his 
parishioners, there are several of a material 
character in existence. In the sacristy of the 
Parish Church there hangs an oil painting of 
the venerable Vicar, from the brush of Mr. J. 
Hayes, which has been described as "an admir- 
able and faithful likeness." Engravings from 
this picture may be seen in many of the homes 
of Eltham. There is one also in the Public 
Library. His name is also perpetuated by an 
endowment which he left to the National 
Schools, while "Jubilee Cottages," the quaint 
wooden dwellings at the rear of the National 
Schools, were so named by their owners to com- 
memorate the jubilee of the Rev. J. K. Shaw- 
Brooke, the great parochial event of the year 

So impressive were the demonstrations which 
took place upon this memorable occasion that 
the ohildieu and grandchildren of those who 
witnessed them find them, to this day, a con- 
gemial theme for conversational purposes. 

At the back of a small framod engraving, 
kindly lent to UP by Mr. Whitaker Smith, shew- 
ing the old Vicarage Field, where this village 
festival took place, we chanced to find an 

original ticket to the celebrations. Apparently, 
it had been there for nearly three-quarters of a 
century. We have taken the liberty to copy the 
words printed upon this ticket, for, to the old 
people of Eltha.-n they will recall the pleasant 
memories of a notable occasion, while those 
who are new residents will get, through them, 
a glimpse of village life seventy-five years ago. 

On one side is printed: 

" 1833. Eltham Jubilee, in commemoration 
of the 50th year the Eev. J. K. Shaw Brooke has 
resided within the parish as Vicar, universally 
beloved and respected." 

On the other side we get : 

" Peter Wakeman You are invited to 
partake on Thursday, the 5th of September, of 
a dinner provided by public subscription in 
token of the respect and regard entertained for 
the Vicar of this Parish. Eltham, 1833. 

N.B. You are requested to wear this card 
with the other side in front, in a conspicuous 
manner, to attend on the day named at half- 
past one o'clock in the Court Yard, and to bring 
with you a knife and fork." 

There can be no doubt that Mr. Wakeman 
carried out the instructions literally, for around 
the card are the needle marks to shew that it 
had been carefully sewn upon some conspicuous 
part of his attire. 

Yet another memorial to this highly esteemed 
and good man lies before us as we write. It 
is a booklet of twenty-two pages, written in the 
year 1841, by one who worked with him for 
many years and knew his worth. As this little 
publication, long since out of print, is the 
record of so interesting a chapter in Elthan 



history, we will reproduce its title page, and 
cull largely from its contents: 






"Cui Pudor, et Justiliae soror incorrupta Fides, 
NadaqueVeritas, quando ullum inreniei parem." 

Hor. b. i. 0. 24 









Died, December 16, 1840, at has residence, 
Eltham, Kent, the Reverend John Kenward 
Shaw Brooke, M.A., formerly Fellow of All- 
Souls College, Oxford, Vicar of Eltham, and 
Rector of Hurst-Pierpoint, in the County of 

"There are certain individuals who, by 
common consent, are deemed worthy of parti- 
cular distinction, which renders a more than 
common notice of them, in the page of 
Obituary Record, a less invidious duty than 
otherwise it would be. We have, we believe, 
perfect liberty so to distinguish the venerable 
and revered Vicar of Eltham, whose decease, 
much as it will be lamented by all that knew 
him, we, however, cannot strictly regard as a 
deplorable event. 

"To have attained the far-advanced age of 
eighty-two, in the enjoyment of almost unin- 
terrupted health; to have been permitted to 
exercise the ministerial office in one parish for 
the uncommon period of fifty-seven years, with 
little or no intermission, till within a few days 
of his death, and with a power of voice and 
vigour of mind not exceeded by many of his 
younger brethren; and, finally, to have sunk 
into the grave, full of faith, and full of years, 
like a shock of corn ripe for the harvest, and 

free, for the most part, from the sufferings of 
mortality; these distinguished marks of favour 
and mercy, in the dealings of a kind Provi- 
dence with His faithful and aged servant, can 
only be viewed by his surviving brethren, 
whether relations or friends, as a cause of 
thankfulness and praise, and not of lamenta- 
tion and mourning. It better accords with our 
sense of duty to relate some of the particulars 
of so long and favoured a life, and of the sphere 
of usefulness in which it was spent. 

"The Reverend John Kenward Shaw Brooke 
was born in London on the 22nd of December, 
1758, but passed the earlier years of his life at 
Eltham Lodge, the seat of his father, Sir John 
Shaw, Baronet. He was educated at the public 
school of Harrow, under that distinguished 
Fcholar, Dr. Sumner, the headmaster. From 
Harrow, in due time, he migrated to the Uni- 
versity of Oxford, and on the 25th July, 1774, 
was entered a Gentleman Commoner at Trinity 
College. He proceeded, in the regular coarse, 
to the degree of B.A., April 29th, 1778, and to 
that of M.A., June 14th, 1782. In the year 
1783, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls' 
College; and although few, if any, of his con- 
temporaries survive to bear record, we have 
abundant sources whence we derive our know- 
ledge of the high esteem in which he was held, 
for his amiable manners, and strict conformity 
to the moral and religious discipline of the 

"In this year, also, he entered into Holy 
Orders, and upon the death of Dr. Pinnell, 
succeeded to the Vicarage of Eltham, and at a 
later period, was presented to the Rectory of 
Hurst-Pierpoint, in Sussex, where respect and 
esteem ever awaited him; and where, although 
his residence was limited to a few weeks an- 
nually, he lost no opportunity of promoting the 
well-being of his parishioners, by his sanction 
and liberal support of every means of advancing 
their temporal and spiritual interests, proposed 
to him by hie greatly esteemed friend and 
curate, now the Rector of Edburton. 

"In 1796, by the decease of Mrs. Brooke, he 
succeeded to the property of the late Joseph 
Brooke, Esq., of West Mailing, in Kent, and 
took his name. 



" Upon this accession of property he resigned 
his Fellowship at All Souls, and took up his 
constant residence at Eltham. This was the 
vineyard in which he exercised his ministerial 
labours during the extended period before men- 
tioned. And how faithfully and diligently he 
discharged the various public and private 
duties of his large parish those alone can 
duly estimate who have experienced the benefit 
of his preaching and been witnesses to the prac- 
tical good which has resulted from his personal 
intercourse with every class of his beloved par- 

" Who could hear -him read the inspiring ser- 
vices of our National Church, without being 
deeply impressed by the devout and solemn 
manner of one evidently so fully impressed 
himself ? Most admirable was his correct and 
dignified style of reading the Scripture-Lessons 
and especially those of the prophetical books of 
the Old Testament; when his voice assumed a 
variation of tone and power according mo^t 
happily with the varied character of that por- 
tion of Holy Writ. Nor will they soon forget, 
when he ascended the pulpit with what sim- 
plicity, and yet with what energy, he preached 
the saving truths of the Gospel; with what 
animation, and often eloquence, he appealed to, 
and pleaded, with his people ' Be ye reconciled 
to God'^as an ambassador of Christ. In 
voice, how clear and distinct! In manner, how 
unaffected, and calm, and temperate! 'In doc- 
trine, shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincer- 
ity.' It is as remarkable as it is true, that ?s 
this venerable divine advanced in years, his 
energy was observed to increase, rather than 
abate; and the very last time that he read 
and preached (on the first Sunday in Advent, 
November 29th, 1840) from I. John ii., 1, only 
sixteen days before his death, he exhibited a 
vigour and power of voice, which called forth 
the particular notice of many who were 

The selections which we now give from the 
interesting pamphlet by the Rev. W. T. 
Myers allude to some of the parochial work 
established or carried on by the Rev. J. K. 
Shaw Brooke. The Jubilee Festival is also 
described as well as the impressive funeral 
scenes when the venerable Vicar was laid to 

rest in the tomb of his fathers. These 
matters from the pen of one who was not only 
an eye-witness of them but who also took part 
in the ceremonies will doubtless be read with 
interest by the old parishioners of Eltham. 

" But we are desirous of tracing other 
features in the character of our departed 
pastor," continues the writer, " other striking 
particulars in the course of the long and use- 
ful life of this benevolent clergyman, by whose 
death many public, religious, and charitable 
societies, besides those of his respective 
parishes, have lost a kind and liberal sup- 
porter; but how great a loss his death will be 
to private individuals the unostentatious 
character of his benevolence will 'ever keep a 
secret. And, first, we would notice his atten- 
tion to the importance of moral and religious 
education in this parish. 

" The National Infant and Sunday Schools, 
which he had the happiness, with the aid of 
his liberal parishioners, to establish in the 
village, were the objects of his anxious care; 
and afforded ample means for the instruction 
of the children of the poor in the principles 
of the Christian religion, as taught by the 
Established Church. And although the in- 
firmity of deafness, in his later years, caused 
him to leave the duty of visiting and examina- 
tion chiefly to his Curate, his constant attend- 
ance as the treasurer at the monthly meetings 
of the school committee, to which he made all 
other engagements subservient, will be recol- 
lected by its members as a valued record of 
his desire to promote and advance the 
efficiency of the schools by every means in his 

" The extensive charities of the parish, of 
which he was also the treasurer, were a 
favourite object of his unremitting regard and 
attention to the very last; and the accuracy 
and regularity of his accounts, which have 
ever been the admiration of his co-trustees, as 
well as the judicious appropriation of the funds, 
called forth an expression of the highest 
approbation from the Commissioners appointed 
by Parliament to inquire into the state of the 
charities throughout the country. 

" In order that these extraordinary claims 



upon his time might not be prejudicial to his 
other calls of ministerial duty, he, from the 
first, gave himself and his parishioners the 
advantage and assistance of a resident Curate. 
This afforded him the opportunity of per- 
sonally distributing, among his poor brethren, 
the benevolence which Providence had in- 
fluenced the hearts of the rich to bequeath to 
them ; and gave him a knowledge of the charac- 
ter and circumstances of his people so desir- 
able and necessary to the due exercise of 

" We need not observe how much this con- 
stant practice of domiciliary visiting among the 
poor conciliated their respect and affection. 
But these feelings were not confined to the 
poor only, nor indeed to any class of his 
parishioners; let public testimony proclaim 
that it was universal. 

" Let the Eltham Jubilee, held on the 5th 
September, 1833, which was celebrated in com- 
memoration of the fiftieth year of his incum- 
bency, speak volumes of the regard and attach- 
ment which a grateful people are wont to enter- 
tain, and are delighted to express, towards a 
faithful minister. And if ever there were an 
adequate demonstration of the love and affec- 
tion that should engage and influence the 
hearts of the flock towards their beloved shep- 
herd, it was abundantly displayed on this 
happy occasion. No means of expressing their 
long-cherished feelings could be so truly 
acceptable to their pastor as to associate the 
honour and distinction intended him with the 
exercise of Christian charity towards the poor. 

"This was the judicious and Christian 
principle which influenced the more opulent 
portion of his parishioners and the liberal 
tradesmen, to unite with one heart and hand 
in the laudable and benevolent purpose of giv- 
ing a public dinner to the poor inhabitants 
of Eltham, as a Jubilee Festival, in com- 
memoration of the blessing of Almighty God 
in so graciously preserving the life and health 
of their beloved minister, and in acknowledg- 
ment of the faithful and unwearied discharge 
of his pastoral care during the period of 50 
years at the same time to express their most 
fervent wish and prayer that it might please 

the Almighty long to preserve him to watch 
over them in the enjoyment of health and 

"The scene of this joyous festivity was the 
Vicarage field, where the families of the poor, 
amounting to nearly 1,400 persons, including 
the children of the National Schools, sat down 
to a plentiful and substantial repast of true 
old English fare, waited upon by the gentry 
and tradesmen ; and where the venerable and 
respected Vicar was received and welcomed, on 
his entrance upon the ground, with a burst 
of acclamations and blessings from his enthusi- 
astic and happy people which must be remem- 
bered with unmixed satisfaction by those 
who had the happiness to be present to the last 
day of their lives. And we must add that the 
uninterrupted course of good order and good 
conduct which prevailed during the whole day 
of festivity forms by no means the least mark 
of respect shewn by a grateful flock to the 
minister of peace. 

" To meet this costly feast and other honour- 
able accompaniments the liberal sum of four 
hundred pounds was contributed; and, among 
the latter we must not omit to mention the 
jubilee portrait, an admirable and faithful 
likenes of the Vicar of Eltham, so happily 
painted by J. Hayes, Esq., and placed in the 
care of the Rev. W. T. Myers, the Curate, at 
the Vicarage House, where it may be seen 
by any of his friends and parishioners." 

(This picture now hangs in the sacristy of 
the Parish Church.) 

" How rich a source of personal happiness 
and comfort, how sacred a cause of thankful- 
ness to God, how strong a claim of gratitude to 
his people this public testimony to his charac- 
ter as a faithful and respected minister of 
the Gospel was to him could be truly esti- 
mated by no one but himself. Great, how- 
ever, as we may suppose his inward satisfac- 
tion and sense of obligation to have been, it was 
not entirely without alloy, as those who knew 
him best could well observe. 

" The innate diffidence and retiring modesty 
of his character, had he yielded to the natural 
bent of his disposition, would have withheld 



him from taking a prominent part at any 
public meeting; and on this occasion he was 
obliged to occupy the honourable and enviable 
station to which the voices and hearts of his 
people and his own exemplary conduct, had 
called him, with a painfully joyous struggle 
within, from which no one could have been 
free, but which must have been trying indeed 
to one 

Whose sober wishes never learu'd to stray, 
But "kept the noiseless tenor of their way!" 

" When, therefore, his high sense of duty 
constrained him to attend the occasional calls 
of public life, in presiding over the meetings 
of his parish, it has often been lamented by 
his friends and admirers that these inherent 
qualities, so amiable and delightful in private 
society, should have deprived them of the full 
and unrestricted exercise of a powerful and 
cultivated mind, and of a remarkably cool and 
sound judgment. The calm and dignified com- 
posure, and the wisdom and discretion with 
which he quietly regulated the often personally 
difficult circumstances of the parish, demon- 
strated an habitual discipline of mind and 
temper which is rarely to be met with. 

" This constant exercise of self-control, 
springing doubtless from the influence of 
Christian principles, he carried with him in 
all the relations of domestic life; and it 
formed a feature of his private character 
which, blended with his other mild and 
amiable virtues, so entirely engaged, and won 
the hearty esteem of his friends and equals, 
in his social intercourse with them, that no 
party nor friendly meeting was considered 
complete without hie animating and ever wel- 
come presence. 

" It will not be difficult to imagine how 
universally, as we before observed, the in- 
fluence of the same 'ornament of a meek and 
quiet spirit' gained upon the hearts of the 
tradesmen and of the poorer classes in his 
daily association with them. 

"The writer, who has the mournful satis- 
faction of offering this last tribute to the 
cherished memory of his beloved friend, can 
truly say, in reference to the benevolent mind, 

and cheerful temper of this amiable clergy, 
man, that during the 20 years, and upwards, 
that he had the happiness of sharing the 
labours of the Christian vineyard with his 
aged brother, the Father of the Diocese, no 
difference ever for a moment disturbed the 
harmony that subsisted between them ; nor did 
ever unkind word proceed from his mouth to 
betray the slightest variation from the entire 
confidence which he reposed in his fellow 
labourer, whose happiness it was to attend 
upon him in his last short illness and whose 
privilege it was to close his eyes in prayer, as 
' the spirit returned to God who gave it.' 

" Shall we attempt to seek, or can we hope 
to find, more eloquent, more convincing testi- 
mony of unfeigned regard and attachment, 
than that which both public and private esteem 
have combined to offer to living virtue? We 
neither seek nor hope to find any. But to 
departed worth a tribute may be found, flowing 
from the same fountain of tenderest sym- 
pathy and affection, the grateful heart, which 
speaks a language still more affecting and 
sincere; even though it speak in sorrow. That 
tribute was reserved for the day of the funeral 
of our lamented friend, Wednesday, December 
23rd, 1840. 

" On this occasion a scene presented itself in 
the parish of Eltham which will not soon be 
forgotten, and which will, perhaps, best 
portray the character of the deceased in the 
estimation of his friends and parishioners. 

" From the hour of his death every house 
and shop exhibited mournful evidence of the 
sad event and of the gloom and distress which 
it had thrown over the whole village. But 
on the day of the interment of the venerable 
patriarch a testimony of respect was given to 
departed worth which we attempt not to 
describe. Facts must speak for themselves. 

" Every shop was closed, and all business 
ceased during the whole day, and every house 
seemed to bespeak a loss in the family. Long 
before the hour appointed for the melancholy 
last offices of the Church over her deeply- 
lamented minister, crowds of the dejected 
people were seen to assemble, 'like sheep that 













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had lost their shepherd.' But when the hour 
arrived the solemn procession from the resi- 
dence of the deceased to the church will best 
evince the anxiety shewn by the parishioners 
to pay the last tribute of affection and love to 
one who had so long and so faithfully watched 
over them. 

" A large body of the neighbouring clergy, 
six of whom were pall bearers, with the Curate 
of the parish at their head, preceded and sur- 
rounded the coffin of their respected and beloved 
friend, the Father of the Diocese. The rela- 
tives, Sir John Kenward Shaw, Baronet, the 
Eev. Robert Shaw, and other branches of the 
Shaw family, with the Eev. J. Scholefield, and 
the Rev. J. C. F. Tufnell, and the domestics, 
followed as mourners. 

" Next came the churchwardens and sildes- 
meii. and in long succession the gentlemen 
and tradesmen of the village, closing with a 
numerous concourse of the poorer people. Nay, 
the whole parish as one man were assembled 
to form the solemn and mournful train, which 
slowly and silently took its way towards the 
Parish Church. And here, again, the 
solemnity of the scene was beyond description 
imposing ! 

" A dense mass of the parishioners, in deep 
mourning, filled almost every part of the 
church, eager to witness the performance of 
the last sacred rites over the mortal remains 
of their pastor. The service was read by the 
Eev. W. T. Myers, who had ministered, with 
his departed elder brother, for more than 20 
years, and who was not disappointed in his 
hope that grace and strength would be given 
him to fulfil this trying but privileged duty 
towards his late beloved fellow-labourer in the 
vineyard of the Lord. 

" We have thus been brought to the closing 
scenes of this just man's life, for 'the just 
shall live by faith'; and truly the life which he 
lived in the flesh was by faith in the Son of 
God. who loved him and gave himself for him. 
And being justified by faith he has now peace 
with God, 'being washed, and justified, and 
sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus and 
by the Spirit of our God,' that Spirit has 
borne witness with his spirit that ha is a 

child of God; and if child then heir, heir of 
God, and joint heir with Christ, but as he 
has suffered with him so may we hope he shall 
be glorified also together with Him, 'who i* 
the resurrection and the life; and in whom 
whosoever believeth, though he were dead, yet 
shall he live; and whosoever liyeth and be- 
lieveth in Him shall never die.' O, 'may we 
die the death of the righteous, and may our 
last end be like his,' for 'blessed are the dead 
that die in the Lord.' Whether we live may 
we live unto the Lord, or whether we die may 
we die unto the Lord, for both living and 
dying we may be the Lord's.'" 

Thus wrote the Rev. W. T. Myers in the 
full-hearted panegyric which was printed and 
published a few months after the closing scenes 
were enacted. The writer has long since 
passed away, most of those Eltham people who 
witnessed the solemn obsequies have themselves 
crossed the bourne whence no traveller returns. 
There may be some of the very oldest who 
recollect the actual circumstances, and there 
are many who will have had the incidents of 
that day described to them by eye-witnesses. 
To all of these Mr. Myers' words will, no 
doubt, be read with interest. To the student 
of local history they are a historical docu- 
ment of considerable value. They reveal to us 
why the name of " Shaw-Brooke " is still a 
household word in Eltham. They present to- 
ns a learned and dignified personality, who, for 
nearly 60 years, dominated to a great degree 
the life of the village. We are shewn in the 
life a fine specimen of the old-time village 
parson, one of the "old school" as he is some- 
times described. We may learn, too, in a 
large measure, from this " song of praise," 
what the conditions of village life were like 
during the first half of last century. We may 
almost breathe again the atmosphere of those 
far off days. Then, when we look around us 
we realise the change that has come over so 
many phases of Eltham village life. Whether 
the change is for the better, or for the worse 
each will probably decide as his experience and 
knowledge dictate, but it will be many a long 
year before the name Shaw-Brooke ceases to 
hold an honoured place in the memory of 
Eltham people. 



Another Eltham house with a long and ex- 
tremely interesting history is "South- 
nd," the residence of Mr. E. Warner, to whose 
family the property has belonged for more than 
a hundred years. The beautiful gardens of 
this old-time abode are screened from the high- 
way by the fine old brick wall which ie so 
notable a feature of the road on the way from 
Eltham to Pope Street. 

Like most of the old houses of this class, the 
front has undergone considerable changes since 
its first erection, but the back still possesses 
many distinctive and interesting features of 
the early Jacobean period. 

This residence was formerly the country seat 
of Sir William Wythens, Kt., Sheriff of London 
in 1610, died 1631. The estate in his time was 
much larger than it is to-day. A record of the 
details of this estate, which is still in existence, 
is valuable to the local antiquarian, on account 
of the field and place names which it contains. 
We 'will, therefore, transcribe it here. 

"Sir William Wythens, Kt., Holdeth (June, 
1605) his mansion house, with orchard, garden, 
backside, and other houses, adjoining Sir Wm. 
Eoper's pett howse S., Southeud Green, E., 
Barber's shaw in parte, N., all cont., with the 
meadow, 4 a. 3r. 

He holdeth (as follows) one close, sometimes 
three closes, the one called Calves garden, the 
other Bushie close, and the third Alders grove, 
the way to Craye W. and N., parish land called 
Princiters, John Stubbes' old howse leys, and 
Bromley close E., Southende green N., a close 
of said Wm.'s S. and W., 6ac. 

A close at the south end of the same the 
waie at Butt's flowe W., the xv pennie land and 

a close of the said Sir Wm.'s and John Stubbs' 
field called Upperfield al's old howse leys S., 
John Stubbes'meadow called old howse leys and 
Upperfield in part W., a close and hedgerows 

called (sic), the xv pennie land E., Hugh 

Miller's close and wood at Butt's flow S. and 
W., great Dominick crofte at the S.W. end 
la. 3r. 7p. 

One close called great Dominicke crofte, Mrs. 
Baker's Damson crofte S.W., ye waie from ye 
Parke pale to Wiatts Elme, S.E., a coppice of 
the said Sir Wm. E., Sao. 2r. 

One grove great Dominick croft S.W., a close 
of Philip Rott's E., John Stubbes' upper field 
N., the waie aforesaid S. Sac. 

One other grove S.E. side the King's way 
leading from the Parke to Wiatt's Elme, the 
waie to Cray S.W., Mrs. Bakers grove caled old 
grove E., a close of the said Sir Wm. E., 6 ac. 3r. 

A close E. side the grove before, a close of 
his W., the waie from the parke pale to Wiatt's 
Elme, N., a close of his own S.E., Sao. 

A close, the close before W., Mrs. Barker's 
Webb field E., two closes of his own S., the 
waie from the park pale to Wiatt's Elme, N., 
Sac. Or. 35p. 

Two closes, the other two closes N., Mrs. 
Baker's pond field and Webb field W., 'Mrs. 
Baker's Longlands S.W., a close of his own and 
Mrs. Baker's old grove in part W., 18ac. 

Two other closes thear called old grove, the 
way to Cray W., and Mrs. Baker's grove called 
old ground W., his own above closes N., Francis 
Reston's oopice called Shalon's S., 12ac. 3r. 12p. 

Two closes land and wood called Coleman's 
heath al's Shallons, the King's land called 



Edgburies N.W., Francis Raston N.E., the 
King's highway S., 7ao. 3r. 8p. 

One messuage called Coleman's with garden 
backside, with a cloee of meadow adjoining 
sometime divided into two closes, a tenem. of 
Henry Manning's son and his own close called 
Greatfield N., Southende Green W., Great 
Brookes and Long croft E., 6ao. lr. lip. 

One field with the marie pitts called great 
field, Colman's, S., the Kings nether well field, 
N., a ten'te of Henry Manning's and a mess, 
of Fras Eeston, a parcell of the Ring's ground 
in the marl pitts W., Philipp Stubbes and the 
xv. pennie lands in East croft E., lOac. 

Long orofte, Sac. Or. lip. 

One field called greate Brookes, the way to 
Wiatt's Elme from Southend greene and little 
Blackland S., Caiman's W., long crofte N.W., 
great Blackland E., 5 ac. 3r. 38p. 

A paroell called Braky springe, a howse in 
Eltham towne lately purchased of Ric. Dyer 
and others, in tenure of Walter Parry, the 
Street of Eltham S., Mr. Twyst W., Philipp 
Stubbs E., 22p. 

One field near Wiatt's Elme, the parrish land 
in parte E., the waie from Winohbridge S., 
4ac. Or. 18p. 

In Eastfield lac. 2r. 

One howse in the towne of Eltham with a 
garden backside, and other howsinge lately 
purchased of Tho. Easton deceased, the Street 
of Eltham N. a parcel! of the Kinge's ground 
next upper tenn acres S., a tenem. of Fras. 
Ueston W., and a ten'te of the heires of Man- 
nynge E. 12ao. 

A field with an orchard, sometime iii. fieldes, 
called Shotlandes, Pittfield N., Southend meade 
S., the way to Southende E., wherein lyeth a 
parcell of ye King's land, 7ac. 

In Eastfield bought of Mr. Reston 2r. 

One close called Laddes hall, Smithfield, W., 
Sir Wm. Roper's parke N., the King's highway, 
S., the King's land E. 4ao." 

The family of Sir William Wythens con- 
tinued in residence at Southend House until 
the death of Sir Francis Wythens, in the year 
1704. This would be about a century. 

The members of this family were distin- 
guished in their day, and one of them, Sir 
Francis, has left behind him a reputation 
which may be regarded by most people as some- 
what unenviable. 

Sir William's son, Robert Withens, wag a, 
Sheriff and Alderman of London, 1610 died 
1630, at Southend House. 

Robert's son, Sir William Withens, Kt., wa 
Sheriff of Kent in the seventh year of King 
James. He was buried at Eltham, December 
7th, 1631. 

A grandson of this gentleman was Sir Franoia 
Witheus, at one time a judge of the King's 
Bench, and a friend of the notorious Judge 

Sir Francis was Member of Parliament for 
Westminster in 1679, the thirty-first year of 
Charles II. He was a warm supporter of th 
Stuarts, even in their most tyrannical acts, and 
his enthusiasm for their cause got him into 
trouble with the Parliament. 

He was knighted by Charles II. on April 
18th, 1680, after presenting an address, express- *' 
ing abhorrence for any interference with thfr r j 
King's prerogative in assembling a Parliament. 
But he was expelled from Parliament the same 
year, in the month of October. He received 
the Speaker's sentence on his knees at the bar 
of the House, and the " Journals of the Com- 
mons" thus record the Speaker's words : " You 
being a lawyer, have offended against your 
own profession, against yourself, your own 
right, your own liberty as an Englishman; this 
is not only a crime against the living, but a 
crime against the unborn; you are dismem- 
bered from this body." 

Notwithstanding this, he was made Serjeant- 
at-Law in 1682, and a Judge of the King's 
Bench in 1683. In the latter capacity he was- 
the judge who presided at the historical trial of 
Titus Gates, and passed sentence upon the pris- 
oner. Gates was the moving spirit of a small 
group of mischief mongers, who, in the autumn 
of 1678, pretended to have discovered a Popish 
plot, concocted, they declared, for the- 
object of murdering Charles II., and James, 
and the re-establishment of Roman Catholicism. 



by meant; of * French Army. Gates even 
accused the Queen of designing to poison the 
King. These frauds produced great excitement 
in the country, and the nation lost its head. 
For two years any person who was suspected 
of adherence to, or even being in sympathy with, 
the Church of Rome might be accused of plotting 
by any informer, with a good prospect of 
obtaining a verdict of guilty from juries and a 
death sentence from the judge. 

In a year the storm had exhausted itself, and 
Gates returned into private life. But on the 
accession of Jam<*i II., Gates was tried for per- 
jury, convicted, and sentenced to imprison- 
ment for life, exposure in the pillory, and a 

Sir Francis Withens, of Southend, Eltham, 
was the judge, and it is recorded that on pass- 
ing sentence he said that "he never in his life 
passed sentence but that he had some compas- 
sion, but he could find none in his heart for so 
hardened a villain." 

But Gates survived the ordeal. He seems to 
have been liberated by the next king, William 
III., and to have lived in the enjoyment of a 
pension from his Majesty, and even went to 
the extent of concocting another plot, with 
the aid of one named Fuller. 

Judge Withens was also one of the judges 
of the unfortunate Algernon Sidney, the other 
judge being Jeffries. 

Sidney was charged with being implicated in 
the famous Eye House Plot, but there was no 
evidence to sustain the charge. Nevertheless, 
he was brought to trial, condemned to death 
on the testimony of a single perjured witness, 
and beheaded at Tower-hill. 

Alluding to his trial, John Evelyn has some 
comments in his diary, not entirely to the 
credit of Judge Withens. 

"1683, 5th December. I was this day invited 
to a wedding of one Mrs. Castle, to whom I 
had some obligation, and it was her fifth hus- 
band, a Lieutenant-Colonel of the City. She 

was the daughter of one Burton, a broom-man, 
by his wife, who sold kitchen-stuff in Kent- 
street, whom God so blessed that the father 
became a very rich, and was a very honest 
man; he was sheriff of Surrey, where I have 

sat on the bench with him There was 

at the wedding the Lord Mayor, the Sheriff, 
several Aldermen and persons of quality; above 
all, Sir George Jeffreys, newly-made Lord Chief 
Justice of England, with Mr. Justice Withings, 
danced with the bride, and were exceeding 
merry. These great men spent the rest of the 
afternoon, till eleven at night, in drinking 
healths, taking tobacco, and talking much be- 
neath the gravity of judges, who had but a 
day or two before condemned Mr. Algernon 
Sydney, who was executed on Tower Hill, on 
the single witness of that monster of a man, 
Lord Howard of Escrick " 

Judge Withens was further associated with 
Jeffries, whom he accompanied on the occasion 
of the "Bloody Assize" at Taunton and the 
West of England. 

" After acting the part of a pliant time- 
server, he was removed, April 21st, 1687, for 
denying the King's right to exercise martial 
law in time of peace without an Act of Parlia- 
ment. He was elected Recorder of Kiugston- 
on-Thames, 1685, from which office William 
III. removed him. He was buried at Eltham, 
May 12th, 1704." 

With the death of the judge, the association 
of the Withens with Southend closed. The 
estate was then occupied in turn by Sir Comport 
Fytche, and Sir John Barker. The latter's son, 
Sir John Fytohe Barker, disposed of it to 
Robert Nassau, a member of a family descended 
from Frederick of Nassau, an illegitimate son 
of Henry Frederick, Prince of Orange, and 
grandfather of William III. 

The eldest son of Robert Nassau became fifth 
Earl of Rochford, and the second son, George 
Nassau, sold Sonthend to Joseph Warner, in 
the latter part of the eighteenth century. It 
has remained in the Warner family ever since. 




There is an ancient record (Originalia, 43 
Edward III., M. 10) which runs as follows: 

"On the 3rd of May, 1369, Spalding was 
directed to take possession of all the property 
of the manor called Henle, in the town and 
parish of Eltham, which William de Branting- 
ham by charter had conveyed to the King, his 
heirs and assigns." 

This manor possessed a house which was 
moated round, and its position is said to have 
been in the Conduit Field, below the Conduit 
Head, somewhere about the neighbourhood now 
occupied by Holy Trinity Church. 

It would seem that prior to the date of the 
above extract the manor was held by John do 
Henle of the Earl of Albemarle, and there is 
another record to the effect that Edward II. 
"commanded John de Henley, keeper of his 
Manor at Eltham, 1290, to supply fodder from 
his own farm for the deer in the park, as they 
were like to perish from the inclemency of the 


In one of the leases of Henry VIII., dated 
1 September, 1522, we read of a lease to Sir 
Henry Quldeford, for 40 years, of the manor and 
park of Eltham, at .30 Is. 8d., rent, with Corby 
Hall and 16 acres at 6s. Sd. 

Although the name of Corbye Hall is prac- 
tically unknown to the present generation of 
Eltham people, it was a place of some account 
in the early days of the village history. It was 
apparently in existence at the same time as 
"Henleys," already alluded to, for we find that, 
"on the 24 June, 1348, the King (Edward III.) 
granted his manor of Lyndon in Rutland to 

Robert de Corby, partly in consideration of 
good services rendered to his mother. Queen 
Isabella, and partly in exchange for certain 
lands and tenements in Eltham Mandeville, 
which Robert had conveyed to the King in 

This seems to suggest that Corbye Hall wan. 
the place indicated. In the records of an 
inquisition by Henry VI., we find that "among 
the possessions seized into the hands of that 
monarch by act of resumption was Corby Hall, 
alias Corbynhall in Eltham." In later years it 
was leased to Sir John Shaw. 

The quaint wooden buildings lying to the 
right as you enter upon the Palace Bridge are 
indicated upon the Elizabethan Plan (1590) as 
the "Chancellor's Lodging." Although some 
slight alterations have, from time to time, been 
made in the construction of these interesting 
dwellings, they are practically the same now a 
they were in Tudor timee, when More, Wolsey, 
Nicholas Bacon, and other distinguished men 
of those days may have in turn resided there. 
We have already alluded to these houses in the 
chapters dealing with the Palace. 

They are now two abodes, one part being 
occupied by the Misses Bloxam, and the other 
by Mrs. Milne, the widow of the late Mr. 
Alexander Milne, whose family resided there- 
for many years, and to whose extensive and 
accurate researches in Eltham history are are- 
greatly indebted for sure guidance in writing 
much that herein is set forth in relation to the- 

Adjoining are two other very old and pic- 
turesque dwellings, occupied by the Misses- 

20 A. 



Brookes and Mr. Hollis respectively. They 
were originally the " spiff ly and buttery" of 
my Lord Chancellor, though in the course of 
years they have had more alterations than the 
Chancellor's Lodging itself. 


This is the name of the house adjoining the 
"Great Hall." The gabled portion on the left 
hand is the old part of the dwelling, which 
dates back several centuries. Until the year 
1859 it was detached from the Great Hall, the 
intervening space being an entrance to the 
farmyard on the south side the portion now 
a lawn. Mr. Richard Bloxam wrought great 
improvements during his tenancy. He built 
the new part of the house connecting it with 
the Hall, transformed the yard into the garden 
and lawn, changed the moat on the south into 
the rosary which is a distinguishing feature of 
the precincts, and brought about other changes 
of an improving and reclaiming character. 
Mr. R. J. Saunders lived at Eltham Court in 
the early part of the last century. He was 
succeeded by Mr. Bloxam, after whom the 
lease was held by Mr. Stevenson, who died 
there some years ago. On the death of Mrs. 
Stevenson the remainder of the lease was taken 
by Mr. C. D. Wilson, who came into residence 
during the present year, 1909. 


This is another private residence, standing 
within the area enclosed by the Moat, adjoining 
the bridge on the left. It was originally a 
cottage, and is shewn in the old prints of the 
Bridge, but it was converted into a commodious 
residence by the late Mr. Richard Mills, who 
lived there through the greater part of last, 
century, was a contemporary of the Rev. 
J. K. Shaw Brooke, and took a prominent part 
in all matters of parochial interest. The next 
occupier was Mr. Crundwell. At the present 
time it is the residence of Mr. Dunn. 

The gardens belonging to this house, on the 
other side of the moat, with their stately trees 
and undulating lawns, are very picturesque. 


This old-world dwelling lies to your left as 
you enter the " avenue" in the direction of the 
bridge, and it stands near to the site, possibly 

upon the site, of what is shewn as the " Great 
Bakehouse" in the Elizabethan plan. Adjoin- 
ing it is the old gateway leading into the "Tilt- 
yard." The present occupier is Captain 
Holbrooke. Former residents have been Messrs. 
J. Hawley (after Sir J. Hawley), H. Scudamore 
(father of F. J. Scudamore), F. Moiling, Captain 
Thacker, and Messrs. Delpratt, W. Willemott, 
and T. Miskin. 


This old house, now the residence of Colonel 
H. B. Tasker, and situated in the High-street, 
on the side opposite to Sherard-road, just below 
its junction with the street, dates back some 
three centuries, the original title deeds being 
still in existence. The last holder of the 
lease was Miss Newman. 


This house lies to the right on entering the 
Court Yard, and is now in the occupation of 
Mrs. Gordon, widow of the late Mr. H. M. 
Gordon, of Abergeldie. It stands close to, if 
not actually upon, the site of "The Chaundry," 
as shewn in the Elizabethan plan. After Mrs. 
Pott, the occupier was the Rev. J. K. Shaw 
Brooke, who died there in 1840, other residents 
being Miss Hill and Mr. L. Richardson. 


The home of the Sherards has already been 
described in an earlier chapter. 


Now the residence of Mr. J. Rosselli. It was 
formerly occupied by a Mr. Alnutt, of Pens- 
hurst. Mr. Richard Lewin purchased the house 
in 1798, and sold it in 1853. Mr. C. S. Mann 
occupied it in 1856, subsequently Mr. L. 
Crowley, and then Mr. Howard Keeling, who 
left a benefaction to the National Schools. 


The present occupant is Mrs. Yeatman. It 
was formerly held in succession by Colonel 
Herries, Mr. T. Haughton, Mr. Dick, Mr. A. G. 
Milne, Mr. Hopkirk, who kept a school there 
for young gentlemen, and Mr. H. Alpress. 


The present occupant is Dr. St. John. Former 
residents were: Mr. Philip Burton, the father- 
in-law of Bishop Home, Mrs. Kirby, Alderman 



Sir Richard Welch, Mr. A. Aislabie, Sir Henry 
Ouslow, R.A., Mr. J. M. Teeedale, Admiral 
Mackenzie, and Mrs. Bivers, the mother of the 
present Vicar of Eltham. 

Students should note that there were two 
houses bearing the name of "Eltham House." 
They should not confuse this house with that 
of Sir John Shaw, now called the "Golf Club 


Facing Roper-street, and now the residence of 
Mrs. Brown. Among its former occupants 
were: Dr. Wilgress, Reader of the Temple; Mr. 
W. Willemott, Mr. T. Charriugton, and Mr. 
G. S. Pritchard. 


This is the house which faces Victoria-road, 
and was the residence of the late Mr. A. J. 

At the end of the eighteenth century it was 
the residence of the Whomes family. It was 
subsequently occupied by Mr. H. Latham, Mr. 
H. Baines, Mrs. Lambert, Mr. G. J. Gosohen 
(afterwards Lord Goschen, recently deceased), 
Mrs. Walrond, Mr. C. Hampshire, and Mr. 
C. W. Bourne. 

The father of the late Lord Goschen Mr. J. 
Goschen lived in the house that stands between 
Ivy House and the Roman Catholic Church 
Here the future Lord Goschen spent his child- 
hood. It was afterwards the residence of Mr. 
Knightly, who kept there a private school for 
young gentlemen. 


This house stands at the angle formed by 
the junction of the Southend-road with the 
Bexley-road. It is at present the residence of 
Mr. W. H. Burman. In the grounds attached 
is the old Conduit Head, from which the Palace 
and the Moat were supplied with water. In the 
old lease there used to be a clause entailing 
upon the tenant of this house the responsibility 
of keeping the Conduit in proper repair. 

Of former tenants there was the beautiful 
Lady Rancliffe, the daughter of Sir William 
James, of Severndroog fame. Subsequent 
tenants were Miss Wollaston, Mr. R. Courage, 
and Mr. J. Grienshields. 


Now the residence of Mr. James Jeken, who 

took up his alwde in Eltham as a medical prac- 
titioner exactly fifty years ago. Former occu- 
piers were the Ravenhill family, Dr. Teggart. 
of Pall Mall; and Mr. T. Lewin. The latter 
gentleman was contemporary with Mr. R. Mills 
and the Rev. J. K. Shaw Brooke. He took a 
great interest in parochial matters, and was 
instrumental in forming the Eltham Friendly 


The old house which stood on the site of the 
Roman Catholic School at Eltham Park. A 
picture of this house is given on another page. 
It was formerly occupied by Mrs. Nunn, the 
widow of Mr. Richard Nunn. Their daughter 
was the first wife of Harry Powlett, the Duke of 
Bolton. She died, however, before her husband 
succeeded to the dukedom, and her burial i 
recorded in the Parish Registers of Eltham, 8th 
June, 1764. Their daughter, the second wife of 
John Viscount Hinchinbroke, inherited the 
property under her grandfather's will. The 
tenant, after Mrs. Nunn's death, was Sir 
Benjamin Haminett. Eventually, it was sold 
to Mr. Thomas Lucas, of Lee, who re-sold it 
to Sir William James. The latter resided there 
until December, 1783, when he died suddenly, on 
the occasion of his daughter's marriage to Lord 

Subsequently, the property came into the- 
possession of the Misses Jones, who sold it, with 
195 acres of land, to Mr. Thomas Jackson, of 
Eltham Park, the adjoining estate. It now 
forms a portion of the Corbett Estate. 


The present house has already been alluded 
to in the chapters dealing with the Roper 
family. It was re-built by Sir Gregory 
Page, and the workshops were added 
to it about 1800 by Arnold, the chronometer- 
maker to George III. Among those who sub- 
sequently resided there were Mr. Lee, banker, 
of Lombard-street; Mr. S. Jeffreyes, the Rev. 
C. G. Fryer, and Mr. E. Langley. The present 
occupiers are Mr. Hubert Bland, the distin- 
guished essayist and journalist, and Mrs. 
Bland, who, under the pen-name of "E. 
Nesbit," is so widely known as a poet an* 



In ancient times the hamlet was called 
Modingham, the name, according to Philipott, 
being derived from two Saxon words, modig, 
proud, and ham, a dwelling. Its story goes 
back far away into antiquity. It was always 
a part of the parish of Eltham, until the 
recent County Council Act severed the connec- 
tion, placing Mottingham in Kent and Eltham 
in Woolwich. There ie a mention of the name 
" Modingeham" ill the confirmation of Edward 
the Confessor's gift of the Manor of Lewisham 
to the Abbey of Ghent; and in the time of 
Edward I., when Walter de Mandeville disposed 
of his property in Eltham to John de Vesci, 
" Modingeham" was recognised as a part of the 
honor of Gloucester. 

We learn also that in the reigii of William 
Eufus the fee of the hamlet of Modingham was 
in the possession of the King's Chamberlain, 
Ansgotus, who gave the tithes to the Priory of 
St. Andrew in Rochester, and in recognition 
of this gift, Bishop Gundulf made Anfred, the 
Chaplain of Ansgotus, a monk of St. Andrew's, 
"to celebrate for the souls of the donor, his 
family, and the King." 

With regard to this tithe, there ie an in- 
teresting note in the diocesan records which we 
will transcribe, as it gives, among other 
matters, the names of the fields as they existed 
in those remote days, nearly a thousand years 

"The lordship of Modyngham (to be tithed) 
begins at Eeadhelde; it extends to the wood of 
the Lord Bishop called Elmestediwood, towards 
the south, and to the field called Charlesfeld to- 
wards the west, and to the woods and lands of 
the King at Eltham towards the north and east. 
The names of the fields are: Southfelde, North- 

felde, Stofelde, Merefeldes, Strode, Trozleys, 
Benelondys, Westdene, Somerteghe, Wastegh, 
Bakevellyfields, Bolysheth, Bryztredyn, Snore- 
hell, Lotredefield, one row of meadow at the 
end of Breggmede, Kytebrokemede, Bentefelde, 
Westhynne, Kyngefedde, Bettescoftes, East- 
fedde, Balte, Woodcroftys, Great and Little 
Altash, Southolde, Lytlemede, Upple Mede- 
grove, Lambynescroftys, Chychylyland, Snelle- 
goryscroftys or Cotycroftys, Kyngeswotegh, 
Knyghtsetegh, Raynoldishaugh, Cortasytagh, 
Bertelottyshagh, Fullysland, with others." 

This rather long list of ancient field names of 
Mottingham may provide a useful exercise in 
identification, for the old folks of the village 
who are familiar with the field names as they 
have existed in their memory. 

The early Hectors and Vicars of Eltham do 
not seem to have been very well pleased with 
the Mottingham tithes going to the Priory of 
Rochester, and as a consequence we find records 
of disputes arising between these holy fathers. 
But the Prior seems to have had the beet of 
the argument. 

In 1243, fifth year of the pontificate of 
Richard Wendover, we read: "Richard, Bishop 
of Rochester, confirmed the sentence of his 
Official, Roger de Cantuaria, in the cause be- 
tween the perpetual Vicar of Eltham and the 
Prior and Convent of Rochester, in favour of 
the latter." 

When Henry VIII. dissolved the monasteries 
these Mottingham tithes reverted to the King; 
but it is some satisfaction to learn that the un- 
scrupulous monarch did not long retain them, 
for we find that in 1540 he caused letters patent 
to be drawn up, conferring them upon the 



newly created Dean and Chapter of Rochester. 
Bnt after the death of Charles I., Jannary, 
1G49, the Parliament abolished Deans and 
Chapters, 30th April, 16*9, and their possessions 
were sold. So "the great and small tithes of 
Mottingham were surveyed, being then leased 
to Nicholas Buckeridge, at rent 5, but worth 
upon improvement 20 a year." 

King Charles II. re-established the Church of 
England, and once more the Dean and Chapter 
of Rochester came in for the tithes. 

In further reference to the extent of the 
bounds of Mottingham, there is a good deal of 
interest in the following entry, dated 15th day 
of September, 1701, and extracted from the 
parochial records of Lee : 

"From the bridge or water called Motting- 
ham bridge, or Water, downe Lodge Lane, lead- 
ing to London, to the Middle Park Water- 
course, from thence all along around the new 
grounds abutting upon the Parish of Eltham, 
northward to Mottingham Corner, and from 
thence round High-field all along by the Park 
Pale to the upper end of Junipers abutting 
upon the said parish of Eltham east, and from 
thence from a tree marked with a cross in the 
highway, cross the road through a mead called 
the Readhill mead, abutting upon the Parish 
-of Chislehurst, Southerly, and crossing the 
said mead along by the hedge side of Lambeth- 
heath to a wood called Stennetts full South, 
Abutting upon the said Parish of Chislehurst, 
and from thence upon a field called Tomlins 
Bushes to an old oak in the said field all along 
abutting upon the parish of Bromley, cross 
Empstead Lane to the corner of Great Marvell's 
wood against the Parish of Lee, and through 
Mr. Stoddard's grounds and the College of 
Greenwich lands bounding upon the eaid parish 
of Lee, to the parish of Eltham Westerly, and 
so upon the said Parish of Eltham down to 
Mottingham Bridge or Water as first aforesaid 

"We whose hands are 'hereunder sett went 
these bounds the day and year above men- 
tioned to be true accompanying the 

AT Clement Hobson, Thomas Stoddard, 

George Wilson, R. of Natha, Ryley, Tris, 

Manis, Michael, the mark of Comp. . . . Thoma, 

The Chee&eman family were associated with 
Mottingham in the latter part of the fifteenth 
century, and continued to hold land there for 
close on two 'hundred years. Hasted tells us 
that the last of the Cheesemans who held 
estate in Mottingham, according to Philipott, 
was Thomas Cheeseman, whose heir, A lie*, 
carried it in marriage to Robert Stoddard, and 
his son, George Stoddard, and Anne, his wife, 
in 3 Elizabeth 1560, built the mansion house 
called "Mottingham Place," which, with the 
lands belonging to it, continued in the family 
till Nicholas Stoddard, dying in 1765, unmarried 
and intestate, there appeared many claims to 
the inheritance. After a long Chancery suit, 
it was adjudged to William Boureman, of New- 
port, Isle of Wight. 

The Place was afterwards sold to Robert 
Dynely, who modernised the house for his own 
occupancy. When his property was sold in 
parcels, after his death in 1805, Mr. Auldjo pur- 
chased the house, and his family occupied it till 
1837, when it was let. Mr. H. R. Baines bought 
it in 1851, and Mr. Schroeter in 1855. 

An interesting lawsuit occurred in the time 
of King James I., when Sir Nicholas Stoddard 
held the manor, and as the record throws a 
light upon the times, we will transcribe it as 
it was extracted by Dr. Drake from the "Ex- 
chequer Bills," 7 Charles Trin. 94. 

Sir Nicholas Stoddard, of Mottingham, 
pleaded in the Exchequer Court that he had 
long been seised of certain lands in the manors 
of Lee, Bankworth (tic) and Shraffold, called 
Lee Park, adjoining the Parks of Eltham and 
Greenwich, and had stocked it with deer. 

King James hunted in it, and wished him to 
enlarge it by emparking 100 acres of the Crown 
lands called Coblands, Hitohin Grove, Mayes- 
wood, Mussard's heath, Roughchinbrook, and 
Long Croft; and to encourage him to be at the 
expense, the King granted a commission to 
Sir Thomas Smith and Sir John Scott to com- 
pound with William and Nicholas King, lessees 
of Coblands, allot Roughchinbrook, and 
Mussard's Heath, to whom he paid .303 13s. 4d. 
for their unexpired term. 


He bought 42 acres, and laid in 60 acres of 
his own inheritance. He ordered the ridings 
and lawn as the King directed, and expended 
,1,500 at least, as he sold lands worth ,37 a 
year, and used the money for the park, in 
which the King had killed 80 deer, at least. 

He had a horse worth, at least, .150, which 
the King fancied, and took in consideration of 
a grant to him of the 100 acres in fee-farm. 

These, in reply, admitted that they had broken 
down the park palings to gain an entrance 
under power of a grant to them of the premises 
for 41 years by letters patent, dated 23rd July, 

John Saunderson and Thomas Lewin, as- 
fermers of the Crown lands of Eoughohinbrook, 
Coblands, Stockchinbrook, and woodland called 
Mussard's Heath, in Lee and Lewishntii, 



Delays occurred in obtaining the great seal 
to the estate bought of William and Nicholas 
King, whose lease was nearly expired, and to 
recoup himself this outlay, made to please the 
King, he felled timber, as he might have done 
by virtue of the grant under the great seal, 
but Sir Lionel Cranfield, the Lord Treasurer, 
restrained him under a warrant, addressed 22nd 
January, 1622, to the bailiff and constable of 
the Manor of Lee, and William and Nicholas 
King's term being determined, Thomas Lewin 
and John Saunderson laid claim to the estate. 

charged Sir Nicholas Stoddard with forcibly 
entering and cutting down timber in contempt 
of the King's authority, and with threatening 
to bring suits against them in the Court of 
King's Bench, to the disinheriting of the King ; 
they prayed, therefore, that Sir Nicholas might 
be summoned to appear in the Court of Ex- 

It would appear, as the result of this action, 
that a special commission was appointed to 
inquire into the circumstances. This commis- 
sion found that Sir Nicholas had cut down 



timber contrary to the terms of his lease, and 
Sir Robert Heath, the Attorney General, laid 
the information. In consequence, Sir John 
I/ewknor, High Sheriff, was directed to amove 
Sir Nicholas, and to establish Thomas Lewin 
and John Saunderson, H.M. lessees, in quiet 
possession thereof. Sir Thomas Walsingham 
and Sir John Fanshawe, H.M. Surveyors, were 
to assess the damages. The jury convened 
found that 65 acres had been converted " from 
good woodland to ill pasture" from time to 
time by Sir Nicholas at his own will and 
pleasure; but, although the wood was lying on 
the ground, there was not sufficient evidence 
to direct their judgment in fixing damages. 

Philipott records a strange accident that 
happened at Mottingham on August 1th, 1585, 
near Fairy-hill, in a field then belonging to 
Sir Nicholas Hart, Kt. 

Early in the morning the ground began to 
*ink so much that three large elm trees were 

suddenly swallowed up in the pit, the tops of 
them falling downwards into the hole, and 
before ten o'clock they were so overwhelmed 
that no part of them could be discerned, the 
concave being suddenly filled with water. 

The compass of this hole was about 80 yards, 
and so deep that a sounding line of 50 fathoms 
could hardly i-each the bottom. At about 10 
yards' distance from the above there was an- 
other piece of ground which sank in like 
manner, near the highway, and so near a 
dwelling-house as greatly to terrify the inhabit- 
ants in it. 

The situation of this extraordinary subsid- 
ence is marked to this day by a deep circular 
depression in the orchard belonging to the 
house lately occupied by Mr. Elliott. Many 
theories have been advanced as to the cause of 
sinking, but in all probability the mystery will 
never be solved. 



Let ue now make a sort of perambulation of 
the parish of Eltham, ana notice some of the 
land marks, old and new, which have not yet 
come under our observation in the "Story of 


This is the old name of the vicinity of South- 
wood House, where the roads to Lamorbey and 
Pope-street branch left and right. The origin 
of the name seems to have been lost, though it 
may probably be pretty accurately guessed, 
when it is remembered that the Crown Woods 
extended in this direction, that game-keepers 
are the relentless enemies of pole-oats, and any 
other cats, and that they sometimes affix the 
skins of such animals as they had destroyed to 
a wall or door, as an example to others. The 
name of "Pole-cat End" may have originated 
in some such tragedies. 

In the days of Mr. Vicat, who resided there, 
Southwood House itself was included with 
" Pole-oat End." Mr. J. J. Smith, however, re- 
named it Southwood House. The latter is now 
the property of the London County Council, 
who have converted it into a hostel for the use 
of the studente attending the Avery Hill Train- 
ing College, which is hard by. The change took 
place this year, 1908. 


This was the name of a wayside public- 
house, said to have stood on the site now occupied 
by " Forest Lodge," also in the vicinity of Pole- 
cat End, towards Lamorbey. The present 
house stands upon the pariah boundary. Mr. 
Woolley says that when, as a boy, he accom- 
panied the authorities on the expedition of 
"beating the bounds," he recollects having to 

pass through this house, where the occupier 
of the time regaled them with bread and cheese 
and ale. 

One meets with occasional references to 
"Wyatt's" or "White's Cross" in the records 
of parochial history. There is also mention of 
" Wyatt's Elme" in several places, e.g., in the 
will of John Collynson, by which he estaiblished 
the "Collynson Charity," April, 1534, making 
provision for funds for the "repairs of the 
highway between Wyatt's Elm and the town of 
Eltham, and between West End Cross and the 
town"; and again in the records of the estate 
of Sir William Wythens, who lived at Southend 
House, " Wiatt's Elm or ye waie to Craie," is- 
frequently mentioned. It is difficult to find 
any person in Eltham who can indicate with 
certainty the position of "Wyatt's Cross," or 
"Wyatt's Elm." The references seem to 
suggest the neighbourhood once called " Pole- 
cat end." 

But why Cross? It is within the bounds of 
possibility that a pilgrim's cross may have 
existed at the junction of these two roads; but 
there seems to be more probability in the sug- 
gestion that some person named Wyatt was 
hanged at the spot. The gibbet, or "cross- 
tree," was no unfamiliar feature of the way- 
side in olden days, and it may be that " Wyatt's 
Cross," or " White's Cross," derives its name 
from such a circumstance. 


The mansion house of " Avery Hill," built 
by the late Colonel North, stands within it 
beautiful park, on the left hand side, as you 
proceed from " Pole-cat end" towards the- 



Bexley-road. Prior to the time of Colonel 
North, there was a house upon the same site, 
where dwelt Mr. Hale. Afterwards Mr. Boyd 
lived there, and during his residence he con- 
siderably improved and enlarged the dwelling. 
A curiosity of the old house was a room which 
was exactly a cube in internal dimensions. 
When the new mansion was built this curious 
room was retained by the architect, and still 
forms part of the present structure. A few 
years ago the mansion and park were purchased 
by the London County Council. The house has 
been transformed into a training college for 
school-mistresses, and the park has been con- 
verted into one of the public parks of London. 

In an auction bill advertising the sale of the 
old house on the 19th May, 1859, it is interesting 
to note that the house is spelt "Aviary Hill." 
It is also spelt this way upon a tombstone in 
the churchyard, Eltham. 


The old road from " Lemon Well" to " Pole- 
cat End" passed along much nearer to the 
house than the present road does. To divert 
this highway, Colonel North constructed the 
handsome piece of road between " Lemon Well" 
and the Bexley-road, at a great cost. The 
small farm house that stood near the old road 
was pulled down, and the park and mansion 
were enclosed completely by the fine brick wall 
which runs along the north side from one lodge 
to the other. 


Mention should be made of the beautiful 
Crown Woods which lie to the east and north 
of Mr. Low's farm. Here bird and plant 
flourish joyously, and the leafy lanes in the 
proximity of the woods are suggestive of 
secluded country life a hundred miles away, 
though they are actually within the boundaries 
of the London area. 


This is a bricked well by the wayside on the 
road from Avery Hill to Eltham. There are 
old allusions to this spring. At one time it had 
a reputation for He medicinal properties, and 
was resorted to for affections of the eye. It is 
said to be frequently used for the same purpose 
even at the present day. The well gives the 

name--Lemon Well to the house hard by 
which is the residence of Sir Harry North, son 
of the late Colonel North. It is a compara- 
tively modern house. The occupier before Sir 
Harry North was Mr. Smithers. The spring 
which supplies the well is in the grounds of 
Lemon Well House. 


To the left of Gravel Pit-lane, a road leading 
northward from the highway is "The Rabbit 
Warren." This piece of laud is now used as 
the links of the Warren Golf Club. At one 
time the portion adjoining the lane formed the 
butts where the Eltham Volunteer Corps used 
to practise with the rifle in the early years of 
ite existence. Owing, however, to the local 
conditions, a range of 300 yards only could be 
obtained. So when the late Mr. Thomas Jack- 
son provided the corps with an extended range 
upon his estate in the neighbourhood of what 
is now called "Well-hall," the "Warren" 
butts were given up. Within the "Warren" 
there is a spring which, in historic days, 
supplied the water for the Moat and the Palace, 
and other houses in Eltham. It was in the first 
place conducted by means of a pipe to the 
"Conduit," the remains of which may still be 
seen in the grounds of Mr. Burman, near Holy 
Trinity Church. Thence it was conveyed to ite 


For many years the Barn Huuse clock has 
been a familiar feature of this part of the 
village, and though a private instrument, it 
has fulfilled the purpose of a public clock to 
the neighbourhood. It was placed there by Mr. 
Thomas Lewin, and upon it is engraved the fol- 
lowing inscription: 

Edv. Griffin de Dingley 

in Agro Northtou 

otiose fecit et Amico donavit. 


We may mention that on the lawn of the 
"Barn House" is a sun-dial, fixed upon a 
pedestal from one of the balustrades of old 
London Bridge. 


One of the most conspicuous of our Eltham 
laud marks is the structure which stands near 


the Broadway, where the Southend-road joins 
the Eltham and Bexley-road, and popularly 
called "The Monument." It is an object of in- 
terest to strangers, who often imagine that it is 
in some way associated with one or other of the 
many historical events of Eltham. It was, 
however, in the first -place nothing more than a 
ventilation shaft to the sewer, and the erection 
of so imposing a structure for such a purpose is 
in some measure a " monument" to the 
originality of Mr. Thomas Chester Haworth, 
who at the time was the local Surveyor of the 
Board of Works. 

It would seem that this gentleman was 
responsible, too, for the name "The Monu- 
ment," which is likely to cling to the building 
as long as it exists, for such words were 
actually eugraved upon it; though afterwards, 
for some reason or other, they were obliterated 
by cement. 


This was the romantio name of a very rural 
lane that ran along the course of what is now 
Victoria-road. At the northern extremity you 
entered it from the High-street, and the 
entrance was protected by posts. At the lower 
end, where Victoria-road now joins the Foots 
Cray-road, was a stile and steps, known as 

Between Love-lane and Southend-road, on the 
right hand side of the High-street, about 
opposite to the Golf Club House there used to 
be a pond called " Dodsou's Pond," which was 
a prominent landmark of the day. 


The present police-station was erected in the 
year 1864, and opened in the spring of 1865. 
The head-quarters of the police, which served 
the purpose of a station, before that time was 
on the spot where Mence Smith's stores are 
now immediately opposite the electrical sub- 


Prisoners could not be accommodated in the 
old station, so they had to be taken to the 
"Cage, or "Lock-up," which is still in exist- 
ence, at the entrance, on the right, to the wood- 
yard, near the old Workhouse. The "Cage" 

in fact, is in the corner of the garden of Eagle 
House. The entrance is from the High-street, 
where the door may be seen, secured by a pad- 

At least two stories are told of the "Cage." 
On one occasion the constable arrested a youth 
for stealing fruit, and duly consigned him to 
the "Cage," placing him in the inner cell, 
but neglecting to lock the inner door. When 
the constable withdrew, the prisoner ventured 
to open the inner door, and come into the 
outer cell. On the constable's return the youth 
discreetly concealed himself behind the outer 
door, and when the officer proceeded to the 
inner chamber the prisoner quietly slipped out, 
looked the constable in, and effected his escape. 
The police records do not seem to shew that he 
was again captured, and the story goes that he 
joined the Marines. 

A very old Eltham inhabitant says that when 
a boy, he recollects a batch of pickpockets, who 
had come down to the races, a noted Eltham 
event, were arrested and put into the "Cage." 
He was standing by at the time, and noticed 
that the constable went away, omitting to lock 
the door, although it was closed. As it hap- 
pened, the prisoners were unconscious of the 
oversight, or they might have escaped. When 
the officer returned, and the omission was 
pointed out to him, he was at first greatly 
alarmed, but, learning that his men were all 
secure, " he scratched his head, and thanked 
his lucky stars for his good fortune." 


This useful institution, provided by the 
London County Council, was opened in the 
year 1904. It is a necessary attribute to 
growth of the population during recent years. 
It is one of the signs that mark the transi- 
tion from the rustic state which characterised 
Eltham village in the past to the new con- 
ditions involved by the absorption of the village 
by the expansion of London. 


There seems to be some doubt as to the 
origin of the name of this street, but in all 
probability it is derived from the two old elm 
trees which at one time stood at the end of 
the road remote from the High-street. 




This name is derived from " Blunt's Croft," 
upon which it is situated. The Croft con- 
sisted of a meadow of la. 2r., which is in- 
cluded in the "Fifteen-penny-lands," one of the 
Eltham charities. 


The old parish workhouse was erected in 
1738, upon a portion of Blunt's Croft. " In 
the book of orders in vestry an entry is made, 
and signed by the Vicar and several of the 
parishioners, that, at a vestry held 17th Febru- 
ary, 1737, it was agreed that a workhouse 
should be built at Blunt's Croft at the charge 
of the said parish; and that the annual rents 
of the said parish given to the use of the 
poor should be applied to the payment of the 
same as the said rents should arise. At a 
vestry, held May 23rd, 1738, the parish con- 
tracted for the building of the same for the 
um of .313." (Report to Charity Com- 
missioners, Sept., 1895.) 


These interesting dwellings, which form so 
prominent a feature of the Eltham High- 
street, are also built upon " Blunt's Croft." 
An account of Thomas Philipot, who provided 
the means for the erection and maintenance of 
these almshouses, has been given in an earlier 
chapter. The Charity Commissioner's report 
of September, 1895, says : 

" Thomas Philipot, by his will, bearing date, 
llth September, 1680, after devising certain 
premises to Clare Hall, in Cambridge, for 
establishing two Kentish fellowships, devised 
his houses in the town of Eltham, and a field, 
in the possession of Henry Snow, to 
the Clothworker's Company, to estab- 
lish an almshouse in a convenient place 
in Eltham, allowing six poor people of that 
parish and Chislehurst .5 per annum each, 
four to be chosen out of Eltham and two out 
of Chislehurst." 

" The almshouses, comprising six tenements, 
were built in 1694, at an expense of 302, out 
of the funds of this charity on part of a 
field called Blunt's Croft, part of the Fifteen- 
penny Lands. Each tenement contains a room 

below and one above, with a wash-house and 
small garden. They are kept in good repair 
at the expense of the trust." 


This building in Elm-terrace was erected in 
the seventies as a British school, of which 
the late Mr. Rathboue was the headmaster. 
On the opening of the Pope-street (Board) 
Schools the Eltham British School ceased to 
exist. The Public Hall, as its name implies 
is now used for meetings, concerts, and similar 


The original Eltham gasworks were at the 
back of what is now the Public Hall. The 
gas company erected their new works on 
Eltham Green about the year 1860. 


In the same neighbourhood, at the rear of 
the Public Hall, stood " Gathercole's Envelope 
Factory." The industry employed a consider- 
able amount of local labour. 


The building now occupied by Messrs. 
Smith's coachbuilding works, was once the 
Congregationalist Chapel. More particulars of 
its history will be given in a subsequent 
chapter. The upper room over the shop is now 
used for meetings, &c. 


When the Borough Council acquired the site 
now occupied by the Public Library, electric 
lighting station, and the open space extending 
to the lane, a large piece of genuine " Old 
Eltham " was obliterated. It consisted of the 
Rising Sun.Sun Yard, the workshops of Messrs. 
Smith, coachbuilders, a picturesque old 
smithy, and a number of quaint wooden build- 
ings, including the coffee shop at the corner, 
all speaking eloquently to us of generations of 
the ancient village long passed away. 

The Rising Sun itself was a fair specimen 
of a village inn, as it has existed for some two 
hundred years. 

sun YARD. 

A row of wooden cottages lying at the rear 
of the inn, and approached by an archway 
formed by part of the inn buildings. These 



cottages were condemned by the authorities, 
and the inhabitants were scattered. At the end 
of Sun Yard was a wooden building, in which 
the Congregationalist community in their 
earliest days used to meet for public worship. 


The farrier's shop which stood to the west 
of Sun Yard nearer to the lane was one of the 
features of the High-street. It was very old, and 
just before its destruction was in a dilapidated 
condition. It was at one time worked by Mr. 
Foster and his two sons, Richard and William. 
The last tenant was Mr. Metcalfe. 

An interesting adventure of old Mr. Foster 
is told in connection with this shoeing forge. 
He had been shoeing a horse which was to be 
afterwards taken down to the Court. So he 
got astride the animal and proceeded to take 
it home himself. On crossing the Moat 
bridge, however, the horse was frightened by a 
boy with a hoop, and bearing his rider with 
him jumped over the parapet. Horse and man 
alighted upon a stack of bricks, and both of 
them miraculously escaped injury. Fate, how- 
ever, was not always so kind to Mr. Foster. 
Not long after he had escaped the perils of 
that terrible leap, he chanced to be getting 
over the stile at the end of the lane near to 
his smithy, slipped, and broke his leg. 


This is the name of the street on the side 
of the High-stret, opposite the Public Library. 
It derives its name from the fact that the 
old "Pound" occupied the spot where Mr. 
Cook's shop now stands at the corner near the 
High-street. The latest Pound was at Eltham 


For the benefit of future generations who may 
read these lines we will describe the lane which 
runs by the National Schools, because its 
character will in all probability be completely 
changed shortly, by its transformation into a 
forty foot road. It is merely a farm road lead- 
ing to the fields which are still cultivated. 
But along its side is a public right-of-way 
which has been used from time immemorial. 
The footpath leads to the field at the end 
of the school premises, which was entered by 

means of a stile. A branch to the right is- 
an ancient pathway to Shooters Hill, a branch 
to the left, sometimes called "The Slip," leads 
to the Parish Church, while the main path 
follows a direct course to Well Hall, the 
ancient seat of the Ropers. 

A year or two ago the Borough Council, in 
pursuance of an agreement which had been 
made with the owners of the land, made an 
attempt to close two of these paths. Their 
action caused a good deal of irritation in the 
parish, and the boards notifying the closing 
of the paths were forcibly removed. The 
Council, however, were acting strictly in 
accordance with the law. Parliament had duly 
authorised the obliteration of these paths, 
though none of the inhabitants was aware of 
the fact. Good feeling was eventually restored, 
by the owners of the land agreeing to let 
the paths remain open until such time as it 
would be necessary to divert them for build- 
ing purposes. 

The "Woolwich-lane" was so called because it 
led to the old Woolwich-road, now called Well 


These allotments lie to the right of the lane. 
Years ago the field they occupy was known as 
One Acre. It was a meadow, and was often 
used to accommodate for the night the herds 
of cattle or flocks of sheep that were being 
driven out of Kent into the London market. 


So called because it is situated upon land 
which, at a very remote period, belonged to 
the Roper family. Some four acres of this 
land formed a part of the Roper Charity. The 
National Schools were erected upon a portion 

of this field. 


The narrow passage between the houses on 
the right, immediately west of Roper-street, is 
popularly known as " Ram Alley." There is 
a tradition, and only a tradition, that cen- 
turies ago an Eltham man, named Stevens, 
was in the habit of stealing an occasional sheep 
from the flocks that were driven through the 
village to London, and concealing it some- 

No. 154. 


(See text). 

' ' 

No. IS5- 

AVERY HILL. Residence of Colonel North. 










O ~ 

S 2 



where up this passage. The tradition further 
asserts that he was ultimately hanged for the 
offence on Shooters Hill. There does not 
appear to be any record of this case, nor 
have any old plans or records revealed the name 
" Earn Alley." So the story is given here for 
what it is worth. 


These curious wooden dwellings were known 
for years as Fry's Buildings, but as they were 
erected at the time of the jubilee of the Eev. 
Shaw Brooke, in the year 1833, they were given 
the name of Jubilee-cottages. They are 
approached by the opening in the street on the 
side almost opposite to "The Carpenters' 
Arms." This was also the entrance to the old 


The old Eltham Brewery lay to the left of 
the entrance alluded to. The buildings are 
now used for stabling and other purposes. 
There is a curious narrow pathway unknown 
to many who are only familiar with the High- 
street, which leads by this old brewery entrance 
along by Jubilee-cottages to the pathway 
known as "The Slip," already alluded to. 

We will continue our walk down the High- 
street, and note some other points of interest. 

The present inn bearing this name is quite 
a new building, but it was erected upon the 
site of a house of the same character, but of 
considerable antiquity. That it was in exist- 
ence two hundred and fifty years ago is proved 
by a trade token bearing that date. The 
wording of the token runs thus: 

o . RICHARD . GREENE . IN The Carpenter's 

R . ELTHOM . IN . KENT . 1667 R . I . B . 

The trade value was one farthing. 

For the benefit of those who are not familiar 
with the technicalities of these token records 
we may explain 

O. means "obverse," E. means "reverse." 

The sign refers to the "field" or the centre 
space of the coin. On the obverse side of this 
coin the "field" is occupied by the term, "The 
Carpenters' Arms." 

On the reverse side the "field" contains 
the initials E.I.G. 

E. is the initial of the landlord's Chris- 
tian name, Eichard. 

G. is the initial of his surname, Green. 

I. is the initial of his wife's name, which 
is not given. 

This combination of the initials of man and 
wife is the common rule of such tokens. 


The old inn was pulled down a few years 
ago, and the present modern and somewhat im- 
posing structure was erected upon the site after 
the usual "set back" of the foundations. It 
was an old posting house. The coaches pass- 
ing this way always stopped at the Castle. 
Two "tokens" are in existence which prove the 
antiquity of this tavern. One of these is 
possessed by Mr. Whittaker Smith. The other 
was in the possession of Dr. Jeken, who has 
placed it in the care of Mr. Taffs. The legend 
of these tokens runs as follows : 

E. IN . ELTHAM. 1649 N.T.M. 

In this case it will be noticed that only the 
initials of the landlord and landlady are given. 
The trade value of this token was one farthing. 


We are fortunate in having as an Eltham 
resident the distinguished numismatist, Mr. 
H. W. Taffs, who has made Kentish Coins 
and Tokens a special study. By his assist- 
ance we are able to give some particulars of 
other tokens and coins of local interest that 
have come under his notice. 

Mr. F. Nash, some years ago, found a token 
in his garden bearing the following inscrip- 
tion : 

o. IOHN . WATSON A heart pierced with 
an arrow. 

R. IN . GRAWSEND. 1653 I.K.W. 

The value of this token was one farthing. 
It is interesting to learn that John Watson 
was twice Mayor of Gravesend, namely, in 
1660, and again in 1670. 

The following tokens were found under the 
Old Castle Tavern. The trade value in each 
case is one farthing : 



(1) o. WILLIAM . CRICH Grocers' Arms. 

B. IN . DEPTFOED W.S.C. 1663. 


Unicorn with Crown. 

E. IN . LONG . ACEE. 1663 M.M.C. 

E. IN . CHICK LANE. 1663 W.N.C. 

The following coins were also found beneath 
the Castle Tavern when the building operations 
were in progress : 

(1) "The Rose," or Royal Farthing of 

Charles I. 


with two sceptres in saltire. 

B. FEAN . ET . HIB . BEX. Rose. 

On both sides, a mint mark, Mullet. 

(2) A "Maltravers" Charles 1. Royal 
Farthing with Double Kings. 


with two sceptres in saltire. 

B. FBAN . ET . HIB . BEX A harp 


The mint mark on the obverse is a 
"wool-pack." On the reverse, a 

An Italian plaque was dug up during the 
digging of the foundations of David Greig's 

Upon the same site there were also found 

(1) An old leaden bale-mark with an S. 

(2) An Irish half-penny, George III., 1781, 
with the counter-mark INO DCNN. 

Upon this, Mr. Taff remarks, "As the letter- 
ing of the countermark is contemporary with 
the Georgian period, it would be interesting 
to find out that John Dunn was a local trades- 
man of the period, and that this circulated 
as his halfpenny token." 

During the construction of the new road from 
the church to the Well Hall station the follow- 
ing coins were unearthed at the end near the 

(1) A George III. Three Shilling Bank 
of 1811. 

(2) A second brass coin of Hadrian. 

To the uninitiated the following note will 
perhaps throw considerable light upon the use 
and object of Trade Tokens. 

"A token, strictly speaking, is a piece of 
money current by sufferance, and not coined 
by authority. In a wider sense the term is 
applied to coins or substitutes for coins made of 
inferior metal, or of a quantity of metal of 
less value than its name would indicate. 

"Owing to the scarcity of small change, and 
the great loss occasioned to the poor for the 
want of some coin of less value than the 
silver penny in use down to the time of the 
Commonwealth, half-penny and farthing tokens 
were struck in brass, copper, tin, pewter, lead, 
and even leather, not only by the Government, 
but by tradespeople, tavern-keepers, and others 
for circulation in their own neighbourhood. 

"When copper coinage became sufficiently 
abundant to meet the wants of the population 
it was made a criminal offence to issue these 
private tokens, although they continued to 
circulate in small quantities down to quite 
recent times." 

With regard to the trade tokens found at 
Eltham, Mr. Taffs points out that he has not 
yet come across any specimen which suggests 
any direct trading with Woolwich. They all 
point to trade with London, or with such a 
place as Gravesend which lies upon the high- 
way into Kent. 

It is probable that in those days Eltham had 
but little doings with Woolwich. As will be 
seen later the only direct communication with 
Woolwich was along a small lane which 
followed generally the track now occupied by 
tie fine "Well Hall-road." 


The Greyhound and the King's Arms are 
obviously very old houses. The "Crown" and 
the "Chequers" are new buildings, but each 
stands upon the site of an older house bear- 
ing the same name. It is somewhat difficult 
to trace the history of these inns. There is 
at the British Museum an old and very rare 
book, published about the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, which gives a list of the princi- 
pal taverns of the counties round London. 
But the book gives only one "taverne" for 
Eltham, and does not record its name, so we 
are left to decide, as best we can, which 



"taverne" is referred to. The "Castle 
Taverne" token which we have just described, 
and which is about the same date as the book, 
would indicate that the "Old Castle" was the 
one tarern mentioned in the book. Never- 
theless, there can be little doubt that the 
"Greyhound" and "King's Arms" are very old 

A characteristic feature of the King's Arms 
is the quaint fire-place which still exists in 
the parlour, as well as the ancient clock, the 
old bacon rack, and the distinct air of antiquity 
which all the rooms wear, and it is easy to 
imagine the association of the house with times 
earlier than the middle of the seventeenth 
century, the date mentioned in the book on 

In the old days it was usual to transact 
parochial business at the inns, and there are 
various records in the parish books of visits 
to the inns for such a purpose, and, apparently, 
it was the custom to lighten the labours of the 
day by refreshment. The drink consumed on 
these occasions was always a considerable item 
in the parochial expenses. At the Easter 
vestry of 1812 it was reported that the refresh- 
ment item for the past year had reached the 
sum of 39 12s. lOd. The details of this 
account are rather interesting : 

1811. Easter Monday. Paid at the Castle 
Inn, 10 10s. 

31st May. Paid at the Crown on making a 
rate, .6 9s. 2d.; paid at the Greyhound 
on taking the population, ti 8s. 4d. 

2nd November. Paid at the Castle Inn on 
putting out two apprentices, one to Mr. 
Pattenden and to Mr. Nightingale, 2 Is. 
Paid at the Greyhound Inn on making 
a new rate, 6 8s. 6d.; expenses of 
different meetings held at inns respecting 
the Militia, <3 13s. 

30th December. Expenses at the Crown at 
a meeting to consider what plan to take 
respecting Groombridge, ,16 10s. Paid 
at the Greyhound Inn at binding two 
apprentices, one to Mr. Rolfe, Eltham, 
one to Mr. Ward, Woolwich, 1 10s. 
Expenses at the Greyhound on the 
Militia business, 11s. 

January, 1812. Paid expenses at the Grey- 
hound, 5s., and at the Castle, 6s. 6d., 
respecting Groombridge. Paid expenses 
at the Greyhound Inn, binding Thomas 
Rolfe, 1 Is. 4d. 

March. Paid at the Greyhound Inn in 
settling rates, 1 2s. Paid at the Castle 
Inn, 12s. 


The short street now called the Court-yard is 
erroneously named. It is really the street 
leading to the Court-yard, which was 
approached by a handsome gateway, and occu- 
pied the area of the open space now forming 
the approach to the bridge over the Moat, and 
plainly shewn by the Elizabethan plan of 1590. 

If you take up a position upon the spot where 
what we now call the Court-yard meets the 
High-street, you will be standing at the centre 
of village activity and trade in the olden times. 
The main street was, as it is now, the highway 
from Kent to London. The bye street led 
directly to the Palace. Hard by was the 
Parish Church, not far from where you stand 
was, in all probability, the cross which was 
a conspicuous object in the pre-Commonwealth 
days. The parish stocks are said to have 
existed on the left hand side of the way, not 
many yards from the High-street, and here, 
for centuries, were held the fairs and markets 
for which Eltham was at one time noted. 
With these things in one's mind, it is not 
at all difficult to form mental pictures of the 
scenes that were enacted here in times now 
passed away for ever. 


As early as the end of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, 27th September, 1299, we find that the 
then lord of the manor, John de Vesoi, 
obtained" a charter for a weekly market at 
Eltham on Tuesdays, and a fair yearly on 
the eve of Holy Trinity and two following days. 

One hundred and forty years after this 
date, namely, in 1439, we read that Henry 
VI. renewed this charter at a council held 
at Overton. The renewal was "in considera- 
tion of the increase of his (the King's) lord- 
ship, and the slender means of his tenants, 
giving liberty for all frequenting the market 



and fair to come, stay, and go, with immunity 
from impost, and from attachment by law, ex- 
cepting for felony or treason." 

The witnesses to this document were the Arch- 
bishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops 
f Bath and Wells and Salisbury; "our dear 
uncle Humphrey, Dnke of Gloucester; our 
dear cousins, Kichard, Duke of York, and 
John, Duke of Norfolk," &c., &c., 

The market was long since discontinued, but 
down to 1778 there seem to have been four 
annual fairs held, on Palm Monday, Easter 
Monday, Whitsun Monday, and October 10th, 
for horses, cattle, and toys. 


The odd aspect of "Court-yard" was quite 
different from what it is to-day. Where most 
of the houses now stand were open fields. 
There was a row of trees beside the road, and 
many still alive can recollect the pond which 
existed near the point where the Back-lane 
joins the "Court-yard." The last of the old 
trees, bent low with age, was blown down a 
few years ago. There were two parish pumps 
in the Court-yard. One of these was on the 
left-hand side not far from the High-street 
near the quaint corner building now occupied 
by Whistler and Worge. The water from the 
well of this pump was so pure and delicious 
that the common saying was that whoever 
"took a suck at the pump never left Eltham." 
The other pump was a little further on, upon 
the same side of the road. It is said that 
though these wells are closed down they were 
never filled in. 

There was yet another public pump near the 
lower gateway, leading to the churchyard, and 
still another on the Lee-road near the point 
where the road to Middle Park Farm joins the 
main road. 


This road, leading from the "Court Yard" 
to Eltham station and Mottingham, is quite 
modern. It is constructed mainly upon the 
course of an old farm road leading from 
Eltham to Chapel Farm. The road now lead- 
ing from the Railway Station to Chapel Farm 
is a continuation of the old road mentioned. 


There do not seem to be any tangible records 
which enable, one to say authoritatively what 
was the origin of the name "Chapel Farm." 
The frequent references to "chapel" and 
"chantry" which are met with in Eltham 
history refer to the "chapel" and "chantry" 
attached to the Palace that actually stood 
within the area enclosed by the moat, forming 
part of the Palace buildings. 

We are unable to find any evidence that a 
chapel existed upon the site of the present 
farm buildings. Neither is there anything 
architecturally about the building that 
suggests the remains of a chapel. What is 
sometimes pointed out as the remains of a 
window of an ecclesiastical character will not 
bear investigation. The brickwork about the 
spot is original. There is no break in the 
layers of 'bricks, as would have been the case 
had they been built about a window. The 
faint marks which have suggested the wdndow 
idea seem to point to a pigeon hutch having 
been suspended upon the end of the house, at 
no greatly distant date, thus protecting a por- 
tion of the wall from the weather. The 
removal of the hutch left this part less weather 
worn than the rest of the wall, suggesting the 
form of a window. There are people now living 
in Eltham who remember this pigeon hutch. 
This statement seems necessary to dispose of a 
fallacy which obtained 'Considerable publicity 

As to the origin of the name, "Chapel 
Farm," the following suggestion has been 
thrown out for those who may be disposed to 
investigate the matter further. 

The old road leading from the Court Yard 
direct to the farm, and nowhere else, seems to 
suggest that the farm was attached to the 
Palace. The establishment of ecclesiastical 
officials at the Royal Chapel, within the pre- 
cints of the Palace, was a large one, consisting 
of close upon a score, including the singing 
boys. Their residence, too, was permanent, for 
they performed their religious functions 
whether or not the Court was in actual 
residence. Consdderimg the large number and 
the permanent abode of the chapel staff, it is 



quite possible that they may have been 
supplied with their dairy and agricultural 
produce from one particular farm, and the 
farm in question may have derived its name 
from this fact. There is no direct evidence to 
substantiate this statement. It is merely a 
suggestion as to the direction in which we may 
find a solution of the mystery that surrounds 
the name of Chapel Farm. 


This interesting lane, one of the favourite 
walks of Eltham people on summer evenings, 
leads from Eltham to Mottingham, passing the 
Palace grounds on the western side. It is some- 
times called " King John's Lane," possibly 
from the association of King John, of France, 
with the Palace, or as a corruption of " Prince 
John's Lane." 


Returning to the High-street, we now pass 
the Parish Church, and must mention that 
very historic " land mark," if it may be so 
called, the office of Parish Beadle. 

Eltham is one of the very few parishes which 
still possesses an official of this kind. The office 
is depleted of most of the important parochial 
duties which were connected with it in ancient 
days when the Parish Beadle was an officer 
of the law and a terror to evil-doers, control- 
ling, as he did, the village stocks. The office 
is now maintained out of the (funds of the 
Parish Church, and the officer, who, in hie 
picturesque garb, is one of the special features 
of our village, does duty at the Parish Church 
on Sundays and other important days, in the 
preservation of order, as his predecessors have 
done for centuries past. 

The present holder of this honourable 
position is Mr. J. Haywood, who has per- 
formed the duties for nearly fifty yeais. His 
father was beadle before him, having held the 
post from the year of the Rev. Shaw Brooke's 
jubilee, 1833. 


This building used to stand upon the site now 
occupied by the houses adjoining the Eltham 
Brewery. The grounds in which the present 
Vicarage stands were the old Vicarage grounds 

in which the Shaw Brooke Jubilee festivities 
took place. 


The old tithe barn used to stand between the 
church and the old Vicarage. It was destroyed 
by fire in the year 1868. 


The name of Sherard-road has been, of recent 
vears, bestowed upon that portion of the old 
winding road which led from Eltham to Wool- 
wich, which lay between the High-street and 
Well Hall Station. It was formerly known as 
the Woolwich-road. The name of " Sherard" 
was applied to it in commemoration of that of 
the distinguished botanists who lived in 
Eltham in the 18th century. 


Tradition attaches considerable interest to 
the handsome iron gates which guard the 
entrance to "Todman's Nursery," the rect- 
angular garden upon the side of the Lee-road, 
opposite to Lyme Farm. These gates are of 
wrought iron, and from the initials woven into 
their design, they are thought by some to have 
been the work of Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who 
was given rooms in the Palace by Charles I., 
where he painted some of his great pictures. 
There does not appear, however, to be any 
documentary evidence to support this interest- 
ing theory. 

It is supposed, also, that the gateway formed 
at one time an entrance to the Palace, directly 
from the high road. This may have been the 
case; but, if so, it is curious that Van Dyck 
should have put his own initials eo prominently 
upon the gates which protected the entrance 
to a royal residence. 

The interesting brick structure in the corner 
of the garden is undoubtedly old, and may 
have been a kind of summerhouse. This build- 
ing, together with the general aspect of the 
grounds, which are walled in, aje consistent 
with the suggestion that what people recollect 
as "Todman's Nurseries" may have been in 
more remote times the grounds of some 
pretentious dwelling that has long since passed 
away. In any case, there is a mystery about 
the splendid iron gates and the ancient 

21 A 



"eummerhouse" whioh needs to be explained. 
This may be an interesting exercise for some 
patient antiquarian of the future. 


This farm was greatly renowned in the sixties 
of the nineteenth century as the breeding 
establishment of thorough-bred race horses. Mr. 
Blenkdron was the proprietor, and his stud in- 
cluded many of the celebrated houses of the 
day. Amongst them was " Caractacus," which 
was the winner of the Derby in 1862. Among 
other of the famous horses of Middle Park 
Stud were "Kingston," "Hermit," "Gladia- 
teur," and " Blair-Athol." The annual horse 
sales were notable events, and brought together 
many of the celebrities of the turf. 

An interesting anecdote of the thorough-bred 
" Caractaous" is recorded. He was not the 
favourite for the Derby of his year, the odds 
against him being 40 to 1. But a week before 
the race, " Rhyming Eiohard," a contributor 
to "Bell's Life," wrote the folowing doggrel 
"tip" concerning the horse: 

" Caractacus, whose shape and make, 
Sets every country clown agape; 
And, if of the outsiders there, 
On horse should pass the winning chair, 
Take the 'tip,' and list to me, 
' Caractacus ' that horse will be." 

When the race took place, Mr. Snewing, the 
owner, instead of employing hie usual jockey, 
instructed a stable 'boy, named Parsons, to ride 
the horse. The result ; was a surprising victory. 


The Eltham Baces were also notable local 
events of the sixties. The course was dn the 
" Harrow Meadows," whioh lie between Eltham 
Green and Kidbrook-lane. The meet was 
usually attended by prominent patrons of 
sport, amongst them on one occasion being his 
Majesty King Edward, who was then Prince of 


The old toll-gate, on the London side of 
Eltham, existed at a point a little distance on 
the Eltham side of what is now Cambridge- 
road, Lee. A story .is still told of an Eltham 
tailor, named Stevens, who jumped the toll- 

gate for a wager, and won. The next toll-gate 
on the Foots Cray-road was a considerable 
distance beyond the Eltham boundary. It was 
in the vicinity of Pound Place, Sidcup. 


These cottages, which stand on the left-hand 
side, beyond Well Hall, on the way to Wool- 
wich, have of recent years, without the faintest 
authority, been called "Nell Gwynne's 
Cottages." There is no record of the famous 
actress having been in any way associated with 
them. They are very old and picturesque, and 
have always been known as the "Well- 
cottages." The fallacy connecting them with 
" Nell Gwynne" has apparently arisen through 
the enterprise of picture post card publishers. 


This interesting road from Well Hall to 
Kidbrook and Blaokheath is of great antiquity. 
It was the direct route between Eltham and 
Greenwich, and when the latter became the 
abode of royalty it was along this road that 
the Tudor Monarchs probably travelled when 
going from one place to the other. 


The ancient pile of brickwork which still 
exists in the meadow near Holy Trinity Church 
is what remains of the old conduit. This 
reservoir dates back to a very remote time, for 
it was the means of supplying the Palace with 
water. The water was brought from a spring 
in the Warren, originally through wooden 
pipes. From the conduit it was conveyed to all 
the houses of the Crown. It was first con- 
ducted to " Step-stile" house and gardens, 
thence through the Park, supplying on its way 
the Mansion, thence, by way of what is now the 
" Chestnuts," it went to the Palace. By means 
of branches it supplied the old houses about 
the Court Yard. 

The present new conduit, which is to be seen 
in the Conduit Meadow, also in the vicinity of 
Holy Trinity Church, was constructed in the 
year 1838, at which date the old conduit was dis- 
carded, and an entirely new main, consisting 
of iron, was laid in the place of the old wooden 
pipes. There is a clause in the ancient lease 
of the Conduit House which entailed upon the 



Crown the responsibility of keeping the moat 
supplied with water. 


The somewhat contradictory name of "New 
Eltham" is quite a modern name for the part 
of the parish it now refers to. The old name 
of the locality was "Pope Street." It was 
probably derived from Dr. Pope, who was 
Chancellor to the Bishop of Rochester at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, and who 
may have been the owner of property in the 
neighbourhood. In the parish records, we find 
that on December 16th, 1617, expenses were in- 
curred for this Dr. Pope, with regard to the 
disposal of a pew at the Parish Church that 
belonged to a Mr. Miller, deceased. 


With the construction of the two railways 
through the parish began the disappearance of 
many of the rural characteristics of Eltham. 
Direct railway accommodation with the City 
made Eltham a profitable field for the builder; 
pretty lanes and meadows began to disappear, 
and new houses were erected in large n-uinbers, 
the population increasing by leaps and bounds. 

Eltham and Mottingham and Pope Street 
Stations were opened at the same time as 
Cannon Street, namely, September 1st, 1866. 
Then followed the development of Mottingham 
and New Eltham. Well Hall Station was 
opened on May 1st, 1895, and was succeeded by 
the extensive building operations in the dis- 
trict now known as Well Hall. The Shooter's 
Hill Station was opened during the present 
year, 1908. 


In February, 1878, a shaft, 140 feet deep and 
a little over four feet in diameter, was dis- 
covered at Eltham Park, in the grounds of Mr. 
Thomas Jackson, and about 300 feet from his 
house. It was lined to a depth of 75 feet with 
brickwork nine inches thick at the top and 14 
inches below, laid in mortar; the next 40 feet 
)>elow this were lined with chalk blocks laid in 
courses from three to eight inches in height 
and seven inches back, with a second set be- 
hind, making 11 inches in all, to correspond 
with the brickwork. The lowest 22 feet were 
cut through the solid chalk without any holes 

or ledges being left. The excellence of the 
work was remarkable throughout; courses of 
brick work occurred amongst the chalk block* 
and vice versa. The whole lining rested upon 
a foundation of wood four inches thick, which 
lay on a chalk ledge. The bottom of the shaft 
opened into a large chamber, 63 feet by 40 feet 
and 9i feet high, excavated in the solid chalk, 
having bays at the side, and columns left stand- 
ing in the chalk to support the roof, which is 
flat, under a course of flint. It is computed 
that at least 1,000 tons of material had been 

Before reaching the chalk, it was necessary 
to sink through a considerable depth of ferru- 
ginous and quartzose sand and gravel; then 
clay, green-sand, a pebble bed, and white-sand 
followed in order. 

We have no certain knowledge of the anti- 
quity of this shaft; the discovery was made 
through investigating the cause of a great 
waste of water that had been laid on, and it 
was found that the water escaped into a brick 
culvert leading to the shaft. 

This remarkable excavation has now been 
filled in, and houses have been built over it. 

The origin of dene-holes is still a debated 
matter with antiquarians. Some are disposed 
to attribute such works to pre-historic times. 
If such be the origin of the Eltham dene-hole, 
it was the most ancient relic that the village 


This is one of the characteristic landmarks 
of Eltham village, and no doubt dates back 
to a very remote period in the village history. 
It ran from the Court-yard to "Love-lane," or 
what is now Victoria-road. At about the 
angle where it joins the Court-yard there used 
to exist a pond, upon the site of which houses 
have been erected. An interesting story in the 
history of the Back-lane is associated with the 
wooden cottages which open upon the lane a 
little way below the Infants' School. 

It was proposed to divert the course of the 
lane by running it in a straigth line from the 
point where it crosses Park-place right away 
to the extreme end of Pound-place. This 



diversion would have formed one side of a 
eort of rectangle, and would have saved the 
pedestrian the trouble of walking the other 
three sides. But the diversion of public rights- 
of-way is not easily accomplished if there 
happens to be opposition to the proposal. This 
proposal did not meet with universal approval. 
Nevertheless, the usual legal formalities were 
proceeded with, and the diversion would have 
taken place had not a flaw been discovered at 
the last moment in the legal proceedings. 

This necessitated going over the course 
again, resulting in a considerable delay. Dur- 
ing the interval the wooden cottages referred 
to were run up hastily, and as these opened 
directly upon the old lane their erection 
effectually blocked the way to further proceed- 
ings in the direction of diversion. 


The Scottish names that have been given to 
the streets of the Eltham Park Estate are often 
the subject of comment, and people sometimes 
wonder why names so entirely foreign 
to local associations should have been applied, 
and whence the names have been derived. As 
these names have come to stay, and as they 
will henceforth play their part in Eltham's 
story, it will be a matter of interest to explain 
their origin. 

The names were given by Mr. and Mrs. 
Cameron Corbett, and in nearly all the in- 
stances have Scottish associations : 

names of Scottish estates. 

VALE are estates in the county of Fife. 

DAIRSIE and DEANSFIELD are estates in the 
vicinity of Edinburgh. 

GREENHOLME is an estate in Dumfriesshire. 
BERRY-HILL, a road which is not yet made, is 
named after an estate in Berwickshire. 

ELIBANK. This name comes from the estate 
of a nobleman in Midlothian, whose eldest son 
is known as "The Master of Elibank." 

CROOKSTONE-ROAD is from a small village in 
Lanarkshire, a few miles out of Glasgow. 
DCNBREK is a suburb of Glasgow. 

DUNVEGAN-HOAD, so named from Duuvegan 
Castle, in the island of Skye, the seat of the 

are all of them the names of Highland Glens. 

ELDERSLIE. There is a decided touch of 
romance about this name, for it is after the 
birthplace of the illustrious Scottish patriot, 
William Wallace. 

WESTMOUNT, is from "Westmount," near 
Paisley, the home of the late Mrs. Cameron 

GLENURE. This, presumably, is named after 
the place where "James of the Glens" was 
assassinated, as set forth by R. L. Stevenson 
in his novel "Kidnapped." 

GOUROCK is the name of a fashionable water- 
ing place on the Firth of Clyde. 


We will now conclude our chapters on 
"Laud-marks" by giving a list of the few roads 
that existed in the reign of James the First, 
together with their situation and the direction 
in which they ran. We are enabled to do 
this by referring to records of the " Sur- 
vey" which was made of Eltham by order of 
King James the First in the year 1605. The 
Commissioners who carried out this work 
were : Sir Thomas Walsingham, Sir Percival 
Hart, Sir Olif Loigh, John Doddridge, Esq., 
Solicitor-General, Sir Francis Bacon (after- 
wards Lord Bacon), Matthew Hadds and 
Ralf Ewens, Esquires, Henry Hayman, Esq., 
Surveyor of Kent. Among the Commissioners 
fined ten shillings each for not appearing on the 
jury were William Boughton, of Plumstead, 
gent.; Samuel Abell, of Erith, gent.; Thomas 
Wildgoose, of Lewisham. 

The report of the Commission gives many in- 
teresting details of the lands, tenants, woods, 
rentals, and other matters connected with the 
royal estates in Eltham and the neighbouring 
parishes. These details are too numerous to be 
reproduced here, but the survey may be well 
studied by those who would like to know more 
of the ancient field names of the parish, with 
the situation and extent of the fields indicated. 
We transcribe, however, the following extract 
which deals with "Presentment of Highways, 
Commons, and Wastes of the Manor of Eltham." 



1. A highway from Eltham town by the 
gravel-pit, in our knowledge a common water- 
ing-place for the parishioners of Eltham, lead- 
ing to Wellhaw-green, and thenceforth by 
Thomas Roper, Esquire. 

2. A lane called Horne-lane, leading from 
Wellhaw-green to Kyfield style, and so to 
Bexley and Darfort, ditched and hedged on both 
sides from the lands of Mr. Thomas Eoper, 
and Hogs' sties of the parishioners, and free 
herbage common, and passage for horsemen 
.and carts till exchange was made between Mr. 
Thomas Eoper and the parishioners for a 
parcel of land called Hungerdynes. 

3. A lane leading out of Horne-lane to the 
Common of Eltham, near Broad Oke, and so 
to Canterbury, ditched and hedged from the 
lands of Mr. Thomas Roper. The 
parishioners of Eltham had free herbage till 
the exchange with Mr. Thomas Koper for 
four acres in the Common field of Eltham 
called Eastfield. 

4. A lane from Theewing-lane, eastward to 
Canterbury highway against the beacon called 
Pickpurse-lane, fenced on one side, and the 
King's wood called Jakeshill al's Mumbey's 
spring on the other, exchanged. 

5. Claypit-lane, leading from Wellhaw-green 
to the lower side of Eltham Common and to 

6. Kakehill-lane, leading from Wellhaw- 
green to the Manor of Kydbroke, Canterbury 
highway, and Charlton. 

7. Eedbroke-lane from Wellhaw-green to 
Kedbroke-green, and so to Blackheath, hedged 
and ditched out of the land of Mr. Thomas 
Roper, and free herbage so far as the parish 
doth go. 

8. Also called Kedbroke-lane from Pope's 
Street, fenced on both sides to Stony acre, free 
pasturage for parish of Eltham. The lane was 
through Gray-field and into Stone acre, and 
through Henley to the highway to town. 

"The common called Wellhaw-green is parcel 
of his Majesty's waste belonging to the Manor 
of Eltham, as by former surveys, and by ex- 
changing between the King and Mr. John 
Roper, the parishioners and tenants here 
always had free Common. 

9. A Common lying at Shooters Hill; the 
tenants and parishioners only have had free 
Common in pasture and estovers; it extends 
from one side of Heathen-lane by the wood of 
Sir William Roper, called Shooters Hill, along 
the same road to Broad Oke and Pickpurse- 
lane, and along by Gonnewood over London 
way to Plumstead wood, and to the way lead- 
ing from Heathen-lane to Woolwich, and from 
thence to Heathen-lane aforesaid." 

By referring to No. 5, it will be seen that 
"Claypitt-lane" was probably somewhere about 
the course of the road leading to Woolwich. 

From 7 and 8 it would appear that "Ked- 
broke," now Kidbrook-lane, ran from Pope's 
Street to Kidbrook. 

No mention is made in the above of the road 
that now runs from Eltham to Lee. But in 
another part of the Survey there is evidence that 
the Lee-road was in existence at the time. 
After the enumeration of a number of fields 
and grounds other than those of the Ropers 
the "Survey" says : 

"All which grounds aforesaid do lie ou the 
north side of the way from Leye Green to the 
lane leading to Welhawe-green, and from that 
lane end to Welhawe-green, &c." 

This settles a disputed point as to the 
antiquity of the Lee-road. 

There is also an interesting reference to 
Bell-rope Acre." It runs as follows : 

"First his house (Sir William Roper's), 
called Welhaw, with grounds adjoining, 6ac. 
3r. One field called Westfield, in the middle 
lyeth one acre called 'Bell-rope acre,' which 
is for the finding of bell-ropes for the said 
parish of Eltham, 16ao. 3r. 2p." 



The "Story of Eltham" would not be com- 
plete without some account of the charities, in 
which the parish is richer than most villages. 
To deal with 'these endowments in full is out- 
side the possibilities of the space at our dis- 
posal here, as many chapters would be needed 
for the purpose. We therefore propose to give 
a brief notice, chiefly historical, of the various 
charities, and would refer those who desire to 
make themselves acquainted with all their de- 
tails and the present methods of their admin- 
istration to the reports issued from time to 
time by the Charity Commissioners. 

Most of the charities have existed for many 
centuries, and, as the years have gone on, local 
conditions have changed, and such changes 
have necessitated variations in adminis- 
tration. The latest official order for this pur- 
pose was issued by the Charity Commissioners 
to the Trustees, in July, 1907. 


Thomas Philipott, by will, dated llth 
September, 1680, after devising certain premises 
to Clare Hall, Cambridge, for establishing two 
Kentieh fellowships, devised his houses in the 
town of Eltham and a field (sold in 1866 to the 
Commissioners of Woods and Forests for .650) 
to the Clothworkere' Company to establish six 
almshouses for four poor people from Eltham 
and two from Chislehurst, allowing them 5 
each a year. 

In consequence of an information filed by 
the Attorney-General against the Clothworkers' 
Company, the widow of the testator, and 
others, the will was confirmed, and the Cloth- 
workers' Company being unwilling to act in 
the trust, it was decreed that the master, 

wardens, &c., should appoint seven trustees- 
from Eltham and four from Chislehurst; they 
by an indenture dated 9th December, 1685, con- 
veyed the devised estate to Sir Francis Wytheiis 
and ten other trustees, inhabitants of Eltham 
and Chislehurst, appointed by the Court of 

At a meeting of the Trustees and others of 
the parishes of Eltham and Chislehurst, held 
10th May, 1693, concerning PMlipott's legacy, 
it was agreed that the parishioners of Eltham 
should raise not over ,300 for building, and 
20 for the purchase of a site, and to have 
the exclusive benefit for their poor until re- 
imbursed the money advanced by the proceeds 
of the rents. 

The Almshouses wero built the following year 
(1694) at a cost of ,302, on Blunt's Croft, part 
of the Fifteen-penny lands. Each tenement 
contained an upper and a lower room, with a 
washhouse and small garden. 

In 1871 the Charity Commissioners sanctioned 
the erection of three additional almshouses, 
two for Eltham, and one for Chislehurst, near 
the old houses on a piece of Blunt's Croft, ex- 
changed for land near the High-street. 


This name is supposed to have been so given 
from the ancient tribute of the value of a 
"fifteenth" of every man's goods paid towards 
the exigencies of the State. Henry VII. in 
1492, in consideration of the fact that Eltham 
was heavily taxed, in consequence of its being a 
royal demesne, granted to the parish some 38 
acres, scattered about the estate, the proceeds 
of which were intended to discharge the State 
charge of "fifteenths." 



The title was established 8th December, 1674, 
by decree of a commission of inquiry. On 14th 
February, 1711, an exchange was effected be- 
tween the trustees of this charity and Abraham 
and Peter Foster for a piece of ground near the 
" White Lion," with four almshouses to be 
erected by the Fosters in lieu of half an acre 
.and a building then divided into four alms- 

The old building, known as the Workhouse, 
was built on Blunt'e Croft in 1738, out of the 
charity funds. The Workhouse was a 
parochial institution, and the erection of the 
building .by means of charity funds was an 
instance of the kind of thing our ancestors 
would sometimes do to save the rates. The 
.annual income of this charity is about ,361. 


John Passey, by will, dated 5th July, 1509, 
desired his feoffees, after his wife's death, to 
convey certain property in Eltham to twelve 
honest men in trust, to the value of 26s. 8d. a 
year, of which 13s. 4d. should go to the borse- 
holder of Eltham, for the time being, toward 
the discharge of the head-silver or common fine 
payable to the Crown at the Micheelmas and 
Easter Lawe-days; 6s. 8d. for an obit in the 
Church, and 6s. 8d. for church books and orna- 
ments. Passey's gift was afterwards vested in 
the trustees of the Fifteen-penny Lands (1833). 
Its annual value at the present time is about 

An obit was a service for the soul of a person 
deceased celebrated on the anniversary of his 

Note. The Bcrseholder was the functionary 
who in some counties was called the "tithing- 
man."' He was chosen to preside over the 
"tithing," which was a tenth part of the 
" hundred," for one year. The office was sup- 
posed to have been instituted by King Alfred. 


The earliest deed relating to this charity is 
an indenture bearing date 20th November, 
1616, whereby, reciting that Thomas Eoper and 
William Eoper, by their deed of feoffment, 
bearing date 4th July, 1578, granted to John 
Smithson and others a parcel of ground in 
Eltham, containing, by estimation, four acres 

in the common field, called East Field, 
abutting on the lands of the vicar south and 
west, George Tubbs, and two others, the then 
survivors, in discharge of the trust in them 
reposed, granted the said premises to Sir 
William Wythens and others; and it wa 
agreed that, whenever there should be only 
four, three, or two survivors, they should con- 
vey the premises to twelve other discreet par- 
ishioners and inhabitants of Eltham. On 25th 
July, 1833, the lauds were united under the 
same trust as Fifteen-penny Lands. 

The annual income of this charity is about 


By indenture, 20th May, 1656, Thomas 
Quilter, and Elizabeth, his wife, in considera- 
tion of <120, granted twelve acres in Pope- 
street, Eltham, to Daniel Shafcterden and 
Nicholas Hailey, and others, who, after levy of 
a fine, by indenture of lease and release, dated 
1st and 2nd June, 1671, in discharge of the 
trust, conveyed to certain trustees, the vicar, 
parishioners, and freeholders of Eltham and 
their heirs, the said 12 acres for the benefit of 
the poor. The land, measuring about 15J acres, 
was united with the Fifteen-penny Trust in 

The present income is about J640 a year. 

John Collyneon, by will, dated April, 1534, 
gave a house and nine acres of land in Pope 
Street in trust to John Bricket and three 
others for the repairs of the roads between 
Wyatt's Elm, West End Cross, and the Town of 
Eltham. The annual income of this charity is 
about ,57. 


Henry Keightley, by his will, dated 20th 
May, 1620, appointed that twelve honest men 
of Eltham should take his house and land in 
Pope Street, by estimation 13 acres 3 roods, for 
the use of the highway from Pope Street to 
Church Style, and thence to Mile Oak in 
Eltham; 12d. a year to be paid to the highways 
in Bromley, and the same sum to twelve poor 
men in Eltham; a copy of his will in parch- 
ment to be hung up in the church at Eltham. 
This charity was united to the Fifteen-penny 
Truste in 1833. Its income is about .83 a year. 



The Charity Commissioners require that the 
net yearly income of the Collyneon and Keight- 
ley Charities be paid by the Trustees to the 
Local Authority charged with the care of the 
highways in the Parish of Eltham, provided 
that the local authority to whom the said pay- 
ment is made shall make such provision as will 
give to the parish of Eltham the benefit of such 
payment by way of reduction in the rates of 
the parish. 


Thomasin Sampson, by her will, dated 23rd 
March, 1634, gave to the pariah of Eltham the 
reversion, after the death of her son, of 28 
acres in Meopham at Priestwood Green. The 
rents to be distributed among the poor at the 
rate of 12d. each a year. 

By order of the Commissioners, a moiety of 
the income of this charity must be applied by 
the trustees in apprenticing poor children, 
bona fide resident in the parish of Eltham, to 
some useful trade or occupation. The remain- 
ing moiety goes into the General Fund of the 
Charities. The income of the Sampson Charity 
is about 10 a. year. 


Dame Sarah Prichard, by will, dated 20th 
April, 1707, gave 2 17e. 8d., dividends from 
Consols, to be distributed among ten poor 
widows and maids in Eltham, being 5s. 9d. 
each. An account of this charity will be found 
in the parish of Kingsthorpe, county North- 
ampton, from which it will appear that, out of 
the dividends on ,1,228 8s., Consols, 2 17s. 8d. 
is payable to the parish of Eltham. It is ad- 
ministered by the Vicar and Churchwardens. 


Mary Clapham, widow, by her will, dated 
15th December, 1733, bequeathed to the 
Minister and Churchwardens ,100 Three Per 
Cents., to be paid in coals for distribution, in 
the week before Christmas, among 20 poor 


William Smith, by his will, dated 14th 
October, 1751, bequeathed 200, the yearly 
dividends to be applied in purchasing copies, 
neatly bound in calf, of The Great Importance 

of a Religious Life Considered, the balance, 
if any, to be laid out in coals for distribution 
among a limited number of poor housekeepers 
not receiving alms, at the rate of five bushells 
to each family in the year. 

Dorothy Smith, widow of the above William 
Smith, by her will, dated 20th September, 1754, 
gave ,100 for the same purposes as her hus- 
band's bequest. 

The Charity Commissioners have decided that 
these are " Educational Endowments," and as 
the book prescribed has been long since out of 
print, the trustees are directed to expend the 
money in "Bibles and Prayer Books," as 
prizes to the children of the National Schools. 


John Wall, 12th February, 1787, bequeathed 
,80 Navy Five Per Cents, for the benefit of six 
poor widows, a chaldron of coals each, and the 
surplus money divided among them. 


Lady James, 1798, bequeathed .500, the in- 
terest of which to be expended in coal for the 
poor some day in December, before the 14th of 
the month. 


By >hds will, dated 7th September, 1656, 
Abraham Colfe gave all his lands, tenements, 
and hereditaments to the Leathersellere' 
Company. Among other trusts, the testator 
directed that in certain parishes, of which 
Eltham was one, upon every Lord's Day at the 
public church, at the end of divine service in 
the afternoon, two sweet penny wheaten loaves 
should be distributed by one of the chief officers 
of the church to two of the godliest and poorest 
householders, to be chosen by the minister and 
parish officers annually at a vestry or church 
meeting, at the usual time of the choice of 
officers for church and poor, or within one 
month from 25th March, the same poor persons 
not to be chosen two years together unless there 
were no more people in those parishes, and, if 
any being in health, refused to come to church 
for the bread, another should be chosen ou the 
next Lord's Day. 

Colfe's Charity came under the Endowed 
Schools Acts in 1887, but the scheme directs 



that payment shall be made out of the endow- 
ment of certain yearly sums specified in a 
schedule to the scheme, including a yearly sum 
of 8.s. 8d. to Eltham for bread. 


Richard Slynn, by will, date unknown, gave 
12s. a year, issuing out of a liouw aud land on 
the north side of High-street, Eltham, to be 
laid out in bread for the poor, and 8s. for a 
sermon on the 5th of November. The sermon 
has been discontinued for many years. 


William Hewett, by will, 13th March, 1779, 
gave 30s. a year for the repair of Robert 
Street's tombstone, the surplus for bread for 
the poor. 


William Henstridge Keeling, by will, dated 
15th December, 1820, left the interest of ,150, 
part of his Five Per Cent. Bank Annuities, In 
trust of the churchwardens, to purchase bread 
for the poor, aiid for keeping in repair his own 
gravestone, and those of John Henstridge and 
Pricilla Smith. 


Mrs. Elizabeth Legatt, by will, dated 12th 
Hay, 1714, devised a messuage called 
Hal-graves at Little Heath in the forest of 
Waltham, Barking, Essex, and two pieces of 
land in Hainault Forest and Barking, with .70 
Three Per Cents., the surplus rents (over ,10 
a year to a school at North Weald, Essex) to be 
applied for teaching poor children of Eltham 
"to read, write, and cast accounts," and "to 
be carefully and diligently instructed in the 
catechism, liturgy, and doctrine of the Church 
of England." The premises consisted of a 
small farmhouse and 42 acres of land. 

A National School was established at Eltham 
in 1814, and ,20 a year was paid to the master 
for teaching twenty boys on Mrs. Legatt's 

Subsequently, ,32 a year was paid out of this 
charity towards the salary of the schoolmaster. 
Prior to the abolition of school fees a sum of 
about J625 a year was applied in payment of 
the fees of the children attending the schools, 
and a further sum was devoted to prizes for 

the most regular children in attendance. 
Special grants towards the maintenance of the 
schools were also made from time to time. 

In 1904 the Hargraves property was sold to 
the West Ham Corporation for the sum of 
.10,600. This amount was at once invested in 
the purchase of .11,960 two and a half per 
cent. Consols. 


In the survey of 1605, among the particulars 
of the lands of Sir William Roper, mention is 
made of "One field called Westfield, in the 
middle lyeth one acre called ' Bell Rope Acre,' 
which is for the finding of bell ropes for the 
said parish of Eltham, 16a. 3r. 2p." 

An entry in the parish register, made by 
John Forde, vicar (1598-1628), states that " Bell 
Rope Acre is worth 20 shillings a year for grass, 
beyond the feed." 

For many years an annual payment of 15.s. 
has been received by the churchwardens, from 
the owner, in respect of the land in question. 
The money is paid into the general account of 
the church, out of which bell-ropes are pur- 


The Rev. J. K. Shaw Brook, 12th June, 1799, 
gave a sum of money to redeem the land tax 
on Mrs. Elizabeth ]>gatt's land. 

One of the Kopers (date doubtful) " gave a 
piece of land, of which the annual produce was 
6s. 8d., for the use and benefit of the Clerk of 
the parish of Eltham." 


From Hasted's " History of Kent," we get 
the following interesting reference: 

A committee, appointed by a vestry, to in- 
quire into parish right to Eltham Common, 
near Shooter's Hill, found by the parish 
records that the parish had exercised the 
rights of ownership for nearly 300 years; at one 
time 40 oak trees were cut on the common for 
the repair of the church, at another 20 oaks 
were felled for the repair of the school-house. 
In 1636 the parish sold all the trees growing on 
the common for .200, and afterwards leased 
the land. The earliest mention of right was 
in 1556. In 1572 an action for trespass was 
sustained against William Harnett for cutting 



wood on the common. In 1811 the Com- 
missioners of Woods and Forest sold to the 
Board of Ordnance all the manorial rights of 
the Crown in Eltham Common, 42a. Ir. 3p., and 
in Kidbrook, lla. Ir. In 1815 the encroach- 
ments of the Board of Ordnance were brought 
under the notice of a vestry, and on represent- 
ing the case the Board desisted. The Eev. J. K. 
Shaw Brook- obtained permission from the 
Ordnance Board for the poor of the parish to 
dig clay on the common by payment of 20s. rent 
per acre. It was afterwards thought the pay- 
ment of rent would prejudice the parish rights, 
and the case remained in. statu quo. In 1785 
the parish vestry recognised the right of the 

lord of the manor in the soil, whatever the 
right of the parish in the produce. 

In August, 1785, 3a. 17p. of common land were 
granted to Lady James, on the top of Shooter's 
Hill, for a lease of 21 years, at the rate of <1 
Is. per annum, half to be paid to the lord of the 
manor and half to the overseers of the poor 
of the parish. In 1791 another piece of land 
(la. 3r. 27p.) was leased to Lady James for 19 
years, at a rent of 2 2s. per annum. Subse- 
quently "they further consented that Lady 
James should have leave to make a carriage 
road over Eltham Common from the high turn- 
pike road to the Castle on top of Shooter's Hill, 
without paying more money or consideration. 




For many centuries the Parish Church was 
sufficient to provide for bhe spiritual needs 
of the people, but when the railways 'were 
brought into the district, and the population 
began to rapidly increase, additional church 
.accommodation had to be provided. Where one 
church only existed at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century six new edifices have arisen 
for the ministration of religion according to 
the principles of the Church of England, in 
addition to a Roman Catholic Church, and the 
Chapels of various denominations. 

We have already dealt with the history of 
the Parish Churoh in considerable detail, ex- 
tending as it does far back into the mists of 
antiquity. In the case of the offsprings which 
have all come into existence within the memory 
of man there is very little history to record. 


Erected in Southend-road, in the year 1869, 
and consecrated on the 30th August of that 
year. The first incumbent was the Rev. R. N. 
Rowsell, who held the post until 1903. He 
was followed by the Rev. F. C. Bainbridge 
Bell, who was Vicar till 1907, when he was suc- 
ceeded by the Rev. H. A. Hall. During the 
time of 'Mr. Baimbridge Bell, the Parish Hall 
was erected; and since the present Vicar hae 
had the church considerable structural improve- 
ments and additions to the sacred edifice have 
been carried out. The style of Holy Trinity 
Churoh is early English. The architect was 
Mr. G. L. Street. 


St. Peter's was erected in the year 1871 to 
accommodate the inhabitants of the new houses 
that had flprung up in the vicinity of the Lee- 

road. The architects were Newman and Bill- 

The Churoh of St. Andrew's is built in a 
pointed style, of red brick, with stone dress- 
ings, and consists of nave, north-west tran- 
sept, and a temporary chancel. It was con- 
secrated on March 12th, 1880. The transept 
alluded to was added in 1897. The Rector, the 
Rev. G. B. P. Viner, has held the living since 
the parish was formed. An interesting his- 
torical fact in connection with the living is 
that of the tithes, which, as we noticed in an 
earlier chapter, were the property of the Diocese 
of Rochester, having been, presented to Gundulf, 
a famous Bishop of Rochester, by Ansgotus, 
who was the Chamberlain of William II. 

At the dissolution of the monasteries the 
tithes of Mottingham passed over to King 
Henry VIII., who, ultimately, in 1540 1, 
settled them by letters patent on his newly 
erected Dean and Chapter of Rochester. 

But after the execution of Charles I. the 
Parliament passed, on 30th April, 1649, an 
ordinance, for abolishing Deans and Chapters, 
and selling their possessions. So the great and 
small tithes of Mottingham were surveyed, 
being then under lease, dated 20th November, 
15, Charles I., 1639, term twenty years, to 
Nicholas Buckeridge, at rent 5, but worth 
upon improvement ,20 a year. 

On the restoration of Charles II., and the 
re-estalblishment of the Churoh of England, this 
portion of the tithes returned to the Dean and 
Chapter, by whom they were in turn leased 
to a Mr. Henry Towert, a Robert Dynely, Mrs. 



Anne Burdue, Mr. Nathaniel Clayton, f New- 
castle, and it was for the Rev. G. B. P. Viner 
to eventually redeem them at a cost of nearly 

The Rectory was built in 1886, the land upon 
which the Church and Rectory are erected, was 
presented by Queen Victoria, and the estimated 
value was .900. 


"Christ Church," Shooters Hill, was erected 
in 1861. 


"All Saints," Pope Street, was first opened 
as a Mission Hall in 1884. Fourteen years 
later (1898) the present church was opened. 

The following historical notes are from the St. 
Luke's Magazine for May, 1909: 

" In 1903 the Church people in the fast grow- 
ing town on the Corbett Estate, having made 
their wishes very explicitly known for a place 
of worship of their own, at the instance of the 
Church Extension Association, the Bishop of 
Rochester issued a commission of inquiry into 
the subject. Amongst those present were the 
Bishop of Woolwich, Sir George Vyvyan, and 
the Vicar of Eltham, and, a site having been 
purchased in 1904 (February), it was unani- 
mously agreed that a separate district should 
be formed, and a new mission started, to which 
the Bishop appointed Mr. Rowley, and on the 
26th March, a public meeting was addressed by 
the Bishop, the Vicar presiding, when Mr. 
Rowley was introduced as missioner. Previous 
to this, the Vicar of Eltham and his church- 
wardens had raised about .250 towards a 
mission hall, which amount, on the formation 
of a new committee, was handed to them, to- 
gether with the plans and estimates of the pre- 
sent hall, which, for the sake of convenience, 
were adopted by the committee. 

On September the 22nd the Hall was opened 
by the Bishop, about 320 people being present. 

In April, the Building Account was closed, 
and the amount of .232 placed to the credit of a 
Building Fund for the erection of a Church, 
which, on J uly 10th, at a public meeting, it was 
decided to build, and the Building Committee 
was strengthened by additional members. 

In October, Mr. Temple Moore was selected 
as architect, and in June, 1906, the tender of 
Messrs. Goddard, of .4,315, was accepted. 

On July 14th, the stone of the new church was 
laid by Mr. Talbot, the brother of the Bishop, 
and on July 6th, 1907, the Church of St. Luke's 
was opened, and dedicated by the Bishop of 
Southwark, the church being packed with a 
crowded congregation. 

Owing to a difficulty as to the ultimate patron- 
age, consecration had to be deferred, the patron 
being in China; but on May 22nd, 1908, Mr. 
Poll-hill Turner met tlie Bishops of Southwark 
and Woolwich and Sir George Vyvyan at Bishop's 
House, and gave up all claim to the patronage, 
in favour of the Bishop of the Diocese, and all 
difficulties being thus happily removed, the 
church was formally consecrated on July 4th 
of that year. Laus Deus." 

The incumbent of St. Luke's is the Rev. W. P. 
Rowley, and the churchwardens are Mr. F. W. 
Clark and Mr. 3. Hall. 


There is much of historical interest in the 
association of the Roman Catholics with 
Eltham. Prior to the Reformation, Eltham, 
like every other English village was, in point 
of religious observance, a Roman Catholic com- 
munity, where the Pope was recognised as the 
spiritual head of the Church, and the ministra- 
tions of the parish priest were according to the 
forms of the Roman Catholic ritual and custom. 

Then in 1534 came the great coup d etat of 
Henry VIII., when the King declared himself 
as the head of the Church. The unexpected 
stroke of policy on behalf of Henry threw the 
administration of ecclesiastical matters into 
considerable confusion for a long time; but 
we must not imagine that it made the people 
Protestant all at once. It was not easy for 
people even at the command of a king to ignore 
religious associations, which had come down 
to them through many centuries. The spirit of 
Protestantism was of a comparatively slow 
growth at first, and in every parish were those 
who persistently clung to the teaching of their 

In Eltham a powerful Roman Catholic influ- 

No. 159. 


'A former Resident at Eltham Hodge.) 

No. 160. 

"HERMIT," born and bred at Mr. Blenkiron's Stables at Middle Park. 

Purchased by Mr. Henry Chaplin. 
Winner of the Derby in a snow storm. 1867. 



fftli. N 


All l*rron% to be pro|M*rl> uiiirrd. \. -J. 

Scrambling for -Penny Pieces 

4 andliliiK'* iiol allowed to full ilonii. > :i. 

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A Grand Display of Fi 

No. 161. 

(From a photograph taken by the late Mr. Geo. Rathbone). 



ence existed, long after the Reformation, in the 
Roper family at Well Hall, -who, notwithstand- 
ing the pressure brought to bear upon them, 
which, in these days, we might almost regard 
as persecution, continued in the Roman 
Catholic Faith in Eltham for about two hun- 
dred years. 

In this connection the following notes, 
written at our request, by the Rev. Father 
McGregor, upon the present Catholic com- 
munity in Eltham, will be read with great 
interest. Father MacGregor writes: 

"Catholisism lingered on at Eltham long 
after the old faith had been proscribed. The 
Roper family, of Well Hall, though harassed 
by the penal laws, continued true to the ancient 
religion, and here, doubtless, as in many other 
parts of the country, the family chapel be- 
came the religious centre for Catholics scattered 
over a oonsiderbale area. Sir William Roper 
had as chaplain a Fr. Colleton, a man who 
attained considerable distinction in certain 
questions relating to the status of the Catholic 
clergy which arose in the reigns of Elizabeth 
and James I. This priest lived here to an 
advanced age. His body was buried in the 
churchyard, and a tablet was erected to his 
memory in the old Parish Church. The last 
male heir of the Ropers of Well Hall died in 
Spain albout the middle of the eighteenth 
century. His property was divided between his 
two sisters. They married, and Well Hall was 
sold. Thus ended an old Catholic family, and 
the closing of the domestic chapel meant the 
discontinuance of Catholic worship, and the 
dispersal of the congregation. 

" The beginnings of the new Catholic mission 
were small. In 1870 th Rev. Fr. Cotter, of 
Woolwich, bought two properties adjoining each 
other in the High-street, Torrington Lodge and 
Meadow View. The Sisters of Mercy opened 
an industrial school for girls at Torrington 
Lodge, and a poor school in Meadow View. 
Two rooms in Torrington Lodge served as a 
chapel for the institution and the district. For 
some few years the mission was served from 
Woolwich. In 1875 a resident priest wa 
appointed, the Rev. Francis M. English, who 
remained here some three years, living in a 

house in the village. The Rev. Father John 
Arundel took over charge of the mission in 
1878, and was here a year more or less, being 
succeeded by the Rev. J. B. Harth, whose stay 
extended to about four years. The Rev. Thomas 
Malpass, who followed Fr. Harth in the in- 
cumbency in 1883, died (probably here) in 
1886, and his place was taken by the Rev. 
Joseph J. Kavanagh. Under these priests the 
congregation had increased considerably, and 
numbered about one hundred souls; and ite 
status advised a forward move, the lines of 
which attendant circumstances made very 
definite. In 1887 the industrial school for girls 
was removed to larger premises at Croydon. 
The two houses in the High-street were the 
personal property of the Rev. Jeremiah Cotter, 
who was now aged and mentally impaired; 
moreover, one was empty and unfurnished, the 
other in urgent need of extensive repairs. 
Father Cotter's trustees decided to sell them, 
and to save the mission the Bishop of South- 
wark (Right Rev. John Butt) bought them. 
In 1888 when this much had been accomplished 
Fr. Kavanagh was succeeded by Fr. Martin, 
who is still so well remembered. He took up 
hifl a/bode in a couple of rooms in Torrington 
Lodge to begin with, and superintended the 
beginnings of the poor law school for boys 
which Bishop Butt started for the custody of 
Catholic (boys from the Workhouses, and in a 
few months this work necessitated the return 
of the Sisters of Mercy to Eltham. Father 
Martin moved out of Torrington Lodge, and as 
soon as Meadow View was ready for hifl occu- 
pation, he took possession of it as his Pres- 
bytery. A long room of this house (extending 
over the ground now occupied by the premises 
of the London and Provincial Bank) was 
adapted as a chapel. This chapel opened upon 
the street, and was far more convenient for 
parochial purposes than the former chapel in 
St. Mary's. It <was never intended though to 
be anything but temporary, and in less than 
a year the building of the present church was 
begun. The late Mrs. Allpress was the prime 
mover in this project, and a generous con- 
tributor; Bishop Butt also gave large assist- 
ance, and other benefactors were not wanting. 
So that by the autumn of 1890 the present modest 




but elegant little church was completed. It 
was opened on November 4th, 1890. Bishop 
Butt attended, and assisted at High Mass.which 
was celebrated by Fr. Sheehan, of Blackheath. 
The choir came from Bermondsey, and Canon 
Murnane, of Camberwell, preached. 

"Not long after the opening of the church 
the Poor Law School had to be enlarged, and 
was at length certified under Poor Law regula- 
tions for the reception of 100 boys. 

"A word should be said of the other Catholic 
institutions in the place. Mottingham House 
was acquired by Father von Orsbach in the later 
eighties, and he there for some years conducted 
a preparatory school for Army officers. Later 
on this house was taken over by the Diocesan 
authorities, who established therein a school 
for boys (other than Poor Law children) for 
whose custody primary education, owing to 
peculiar and varying circumstances, the 
Bishop makes himself responsible. This work 
was, however, transferred to Elthani Park 
House some five years ago. At the same time 
the Poor Law School, St. Mary's, was moved 
to the Mottingham Institution, which was 
placed under the management of the Sisters of 
Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; and St. 
Mary's Convent (the old Torrington Lodge) 
while remaining under the care of the Sisters 
of Mercy, was converted to the purposes of a 
Hospital Orphanage, under the Poor Law, for 
Catholic Children of the Home Counties who 
are suffering from certain specified illnesses. 
These children have a gallery to themselves 
in the church with its separate entrance. The 
institution is fully equipped with the most 
modern apparatus and appointments for its 

"Fr. Martin was succeeded in 1901 by the 
Eev. James Lonergan, who was here for five 
.years. In 1906, on the invitation of Bishop 
Amigo, of Southwark, the ancient order of the 
Canons Regular of Lateran undertook the care 
of the united missions of Eltham and Motting- 
ham, and the Rev. Fathers Augustin White, 
George MaoGregor, and Francis Jeffrey came 
into residence here, and are here still. A few 
months ago Fr. White was raised by his 
Superiors to the dignity of a mitred Abbot. 

"So at the present time the Catholic status 
may be summed up. A church at Eltham (St. 
Mary's), with a convent and orphanage adjoin- 
ing; a chapel at Mottingham (St. Vincent's), 
with a convent and orphanage attached, a 
boys' school under Diocesan control; a congre- 
gation of some hundreds (exclusively of the 
institutions), all cared for by a Right Rev. 
Abbot and two other priests. 

"In Catholic circles one hears of a projected 
new church and other things, but as prophecy 
is not history we close this paper." 


For the following brief history of the Con- 
gregational Church we are indebted to a 
pamphlet, kindly lent to us by its author, the 
Rev. E. J. Penford, the present pastor of the 
church. It was written by him on the occasion 
of the Jubilee of the formation of the Eltham 
Congregational Church, and publicly read by 
him on October 27th, 1896. 

Speaking of the Eltham 
Penford writes: 

community, Mr. 

" The church came to be in the month of 
October, 1846. We must, however, go back an- 
other 50 years for the beginning of the move- 
ment, out of which it sprang. The closing 
years of last century (the 18th) were marked, 
as all will remember, by a considerable quick- 
ening of the vitality and zeal of the Churches. 
A wave of revival swept the land. Its force 
was witnessed to by the founding of the Baptist 
M.issionary Society in 1792, the London, Mission- 
ary Society in 1795, and the Church Missionary 
Society in 1799 ..... Among the Home 
Missionary agencies that came into existence at 
the time was the 'London, Itinerant Society,' 
whose principal design was 'to spread the 
knowledge of Christ and of His salvation in 
the villages which are destitute of the Gospel, 
within about ten miles of London, by opening 
Sunday schools and prayer meetings, and by 
preaching the Gospel of Christ in and out of 
doors, as occasion may offer.' 

"Local associations," continues Mr. Penford, 
" having similar aims, became established her* 
and there. One of these was formed at Green- 



wicli, and it was not long before Eltham became 
one of the spheres of ite operations. 

"Preaching wins begun in a cottage. In a 
little while so many were found eager to hear 
' the good tidings,' that it became necessary to 
erect a chapel, which was accordingly done in 
1799. The pulpit was supplied from Green- 
wich, Deptford, Woolwich, and elsewhere. 
Then, for some years, it was occupied by the 
Kev. Mr. Wightman, who subsequently became 
a Baptist minister at Exeter. A time of diffi- 
culty and depression followed. The congrega- 
tions became smaller and smaller, and at last 
the work aeems to have oome to an end. The 
chapel was closed and converted into three 
cottages. The building stood at the bottom of 
what was known locally as ' Sun Yard.' It 
seems to have been felt at the time that the 
situation was not all that could be desired, and 
that to that circumstance was partly due the 
want of success." 

It was not till some thirty years after that 
Congregationalism w,i able to get anything 
like a permanent footing in Eltham. 

Mr. Penford proceeds: 

"The Greenwich JJmtrict Association of Con- 
gregationalist ministers now turned their at- 
tention to Eltham, and under their auspices a 
new chapel wae erected in the High Street." 

(This, of course, was the building now occu- 
pied by the coaohbuildiug works of Messrs. 

"It costs, together with the freehold, 1,200, 
and was the property, not of the congregation, 
but of Mr. William Joynson, of St. Mary Cray, 
who, in response to an appeal, had found the 
necessary funds. The new chapel was opened 
on October 22nd, 1839; the Eev. Dr. Bennett, of 
Falcon Square, preaching in the morning, and 
the Rev. J. Blackburn, of Claremont, in the 

But the workers were imported from Wool- 
wich, Deptford, Bromley, Lewiflham, and other 
plaoes. It was not till 1845 that Mr. Henry W. 
Dobell came to reside in the village. He proved 
a tower of strength to local Congregationalism, 
and was the principal means of establishing 
it firmly as one of our religious communities. 

This is how Mr. Penford describes the advent 
of Mr. Henry William Dobell: 

"In spite of .having many friends and 
helpers, the cause did not make the progress, 
that wag hoped. It continued to be the day 
of small things. Such was the case when, on 
a certain Sunday morning in the summer of 
1845, a gentleman put in an appearance for the 
first time, who was destined to exert an in- 
fluence iu the congregation and upon the neigh- 
bourhood of which at the time he can have 
little dreamed. That day the supply was late 
very late. After sitting there in silence for 
some time, the stranger offered to begin the 
service, and his offer wae accepted. A long 
hymn, a long lesson, and a long prayer 
followed, and at last the preacher came. Th 
stranger then left the pulpit, whereupon tht* 
preacher begged him to return to it, and preach 
the sermon, which he did . . . The preacher 
must remain anonymous; the stranger wae Miv 
Henry William Dobell, than whom no Church 
ever had a warmer and more generous and de- 
voted friend than he proved himself to be to 
the struggling cause to which he was intro- 
duced that day. Mr. Dobell had come from the 
large and flourishing Churoh worshipping at 
Trevor Chapel, Brompton, under the pastorate 
of the Rev. Dr. Morrison, where, as Sunday 
school superintendent, he had rendered con- 
spicuous service. 

"Dr. Morrison was reluctant to lose so 
efficient a worker. 'What can you be thinking 
of,' he wrote, 'to bury yourself in such a 
place?' " 

Not a very complimentary way of speaking of 
this ancient abode of English sovereigns! But 
we will forgive Dr. Morrison because of the im- 
plied testimony to the work of one to whom we 
owe so much. To the doctor's question the 
characteristic reply was: 

" If I have learnt anything from your 
preaching, it is that the worse the disease tho 
greater the need of the remedy.'" . . . 

"Mr. Dobell brought to Eltham the ability 
and energy which he had displayed elsewhere, 
and very soon the leadership of the little com- 
munity to which he had come fell into bis 



hands. Some of the old members of the con- 
gregation, whose views were narrower than 
those which now seemed likely to find favour, 
fell away; but others took their place, and the 
little cause began to make progress. 

" Up to this time the chapel had been a 
preaching station, not the home of a Church. 
To Mr. Dobell's initiative was due the forma- 
tion of the Church proper." 

This was done at a meeting held in October, 

" It was a small beginning, for only eight 
members were enrolled Mr. H. W. Dobell, 
Miss Mary Dobell, Mrs. Blanchett, Miss 
Blanchett, Mr. Eichard Taylor, Mr. Cooper, 
Mr. Copper, Mrs. Hannah Smith. Not for 3J 
years had the Church a settled pastor, but the 
services were maintained, and the membership 
increased. The Sunday preachers at this time 
were the students of Hackney College. Mr. 
Dobell himself was practically lay pastor dur- 
ing this period; as, indeed, he was at other 
times. Again and again he conducted both the 
Sunday and week-day services, and was a fre- 
quent and welcome visitor in the homes of the 
sick. But at length it was felt that the time 
had come for the appointment of a minister, 
and the choice of the Church fell upon the Kev. 
W. R. Noble." 

This gentleman held the pastorate for a few 
months only, for he removed to Bexley in the 
autumn of the same year, 1851. 

"After the removal of Mr. Noble, there was 
an interregnum of nearly three years, during 
which time the pulpit was again supplied by 
students of Hackney College, and other friends, 
Professor Ransom coming, as a rule, on the 
first Sunday in the month/' 

The second pastor was the Rev. William 
Jackson, who fulfilled the duties till the year 
1856. Mr. Penford has much to tell us about 
the careers and characters of the successive 
ministers. We regret that the limits of our 
space prevent us from transcribing these 
matters. We must, however, give an anecdote 
of the Rev. William Jackson. 

"Early in his ministry," writes Mr. Pen- 
ford, " he appeared one Sunday in a gown, and 

thinking the circumstance called for remark, 
he said : ' Some of you may be surprised to see 
me in a new garb. I wear it for convenience. 
It is convenient to preach in a loose robe. But 
I would as soon preach in the smock frock of 
the ploughman as in this gown; and,' he went 
on, ' I do not mind whether I preach in a barn 
or in a pulpit, so long as souls are saved as the 
result of my preaching.' " 

The Rev. Thomas Kennerley was the next 
minister. He was called to the pastorate on 
May 1st, 1857. 

During the first year of his ministry the 
Church became possessed of the building in 
which it worshipped in the High-street. It had 
been the property of Mr. Joynson, who had 
found the money for its erection. "He now 
generously offered to relinquish his claim to it, 
and to the ground on which it stood, and other 
ground at its rear, on part of which his 
envelope factory had stood, on payment of the 
sum of 500 a much smaller sum than the 
property was worth. His offer was gladly 
accepted, and thus the Church became its own 

" In 1865 a successor to Mr. Kennerley was 
found in the Rev. Jabez Marshall, of Hallaton, 
Leicester, a man of cultivated mind, gentle 
spirit, and devout heart." 

It was during the pastorate of Mr. Marshall 
that the present chapel was erected. The 
accommodation in the High Street had become 
too limited. A larger building was now neces- 
sary, but great difficulties were experienced in 
getting a suitable site. The Crown Commis- 
sioners for a time refused to sell or lease a 
suitable piece of land, and there was a great 
outcry on account of the obstacles that seemed 
to be put in the way. The action of the Com- 
missioners was actually brought before the 
notice of Parliament. But they persisted in 
their refusal, except that they offered to sell 
the site of the National School at the corner of 
Pound Place. This site was, however, regarded 
by the Congregationalists as unsuitable. 

" At last," writes Mr. Penford, " when every 
door seemed closed, Mr. Dobell, with the full 
concurrence of his devoted wife, resolved to 
find a site for the new church on his own pi-e- 



mises. He, therefore, pulled down his stables 
and coach-house, and gave for the purpose the 
ground on which they stood, together with the 
stable-yard and part of the garden." 

The foundation stone of the new church was 
laid by Mr. Samuel Morley, oil July 23rd, 1867. 
The Eev. Joseph Beazley, of Blackheath, offered 
the dedication prayer, and the Rev. J. 
Kennedy, M.A., of Stepuey, delivered an 
address. Already nearly ,2,000 had been con- 
tributed to the Building Fund. The church 
was ready and opened for divine service about 
a year later, viz., on July 15th, 1868, the Eev. 
Samuel Martin preaching in the morning, and 
the Kev. Dr. Raleigh in the evening. It was 
reported that the whole amount required was 
forthcoming about .4,500 ^and that the build- 
ing was free of debt. Mr. Dobell himself con- 
tributed generously how generously only he 
himself knew. Mr. Samuel Morley gave ,500, 
Mr. W. Joyneou also gave ,500, and Mr. 
Thomas Jackson, of Elthani Park, 200." 

In 1871 the Rev. Benjamin Price began his 
ministry in succession to the Rev. J. Marshall, 
who had removed to Godalmdng. 

The Rev. E. J. Penford, the present pastor, 
succeeded Mr. Price in 1879. "In 1882, the 
church and schoolroom were renovated, and 
the organ re-built and enlarged at a cost of 
about ,500, and a schoolroom was added to the 
mission chapel at New Eltham which had 
been erected during the ministry of Mr. Price 
at a further cost of 400. 

In 1894 the church and schoolroom were again 
renovated at the cost of about ,500. On this 
occasion the old church windows were replaced 
by windows of coloured glass. 

"In 1895, Mr. Dobell, of whom so much has 
had to be said, passed into the Unseen. He 
died on the 2nd March, in the 82nd year of 
his age, and was buried on March 8th, the Rev. 
Morlais Jones, a valued friend for many years, 
conducting the service in the church, and the 
pastor that at the grave in the parish church- 


The first chapel of the Bible Christians was 
built in what is now Elizabeth-terrace. The 
chapel is now used as a workshop by Mr. 

Brand (builder, &c.). In the year 1880 the 
little community migrated to Park-place, 
where a more commodious building had been 

A year or two ago the Bible Christians allied 
themselves with the Free Methodists and New 
Connection Methodists, and the community 
thus formed was called The United Methodist 
Church. It is under this designation that 
its religious work is now carried on. The 
pastor is the Rev. F. L. Buxtou. 


We are indebted to the Rev. A. C. Cham- 
bers (pastor) for the following note upon the 
history of the newly-formed Eltham Park 
Baptist Church : 

"The Baptist settlers on the new estate be- 
came desirous of a place of worship for their 
own teaching and practice. They formed a 
small committee in 1903. The London Baptist 
Association came to their aid by purchasing 
an excellent site in Westmouiit-road, and upon 
this was erected a school chapel, affording 
accommodation for some 300 persons. This 
building was dedicated and opened for public 
worship on Good Friday, April 10th, 1903, a 
special sermon being preached by the Rev. 
R. O. Johns, of Dais ton Junction. In the 
following year the Rev. Arthur C. Chambers, 
of Belvedere; was unanimously chosen as the 
first pastor, and he commenced his ministry 
on Easter Sunday, 1904. The present mem- 
bership of the church is 140, with a congre- 
gation that completely fills the present build- 
ing, and that, together with an excellent Sun- 
day school of 150 scholars, warrants the hop 
of a permanent and commodious church being 
erected at no distant date." 


Mr. Alfred Smith has kindly provided us 
with the following brief history of the Baptists 
in Eltham: 

" The Eltham Baptist Church, of Balcaskie- 
road, was formed as far back as the year 1883. 
A few friends had been in the habit of walk- 
ing either to Woolwich or to Lee to attend 
chapel, and at the invitation of Mr. A. Smith 
they met together to consider the possibility 




of forming a Baptist Church for Eltham, 
there having been no Baptist Church, prior 
to this, in the village. 

"The result of the meeting was that steps 
were taken to provide a suitable building, 
which proved to be a difficult undertaking. 
Ultimately, however, the premises, afterwards 
known as the Eltham Baptist Meeting Room, 
were secured. The room was really a part of 
the old brewery, at the entrance to Jubilee- 
cottages. It was made quite comfortable, and 
seated, at an expense of about 75. 

"On Tuesday, May 29th, 1883, this room was 
opened for public worship and Mr. John Box 
of Soho Baptist Chapel, London, preached at 
3.15 p.m., and in the evening at 6.30 a public 
meeting was held. Through the kindness of 
the Strict Baptist Association and many 
friends the whole of the money was collected, 
and the church was started free of debt. For 
21 years the Church met in this room, and 
although during that time they tried to get 
a more suitable building, or ground to erect 
a building upon, and had formed a fund for 
this purpose, it was not until the estate known 
as the Corbett Estate was opened that their 
efforts were successful. 

"At this time they had as their pastor Mr. 
S. Banks, and through his strenuous efforts, 
also his wife's and other members 
of the Church, a big effort was 
made to secure a suitable site and erect 
a building. Entirely through the great kind- 
ness of Mrs. Kennard, of St. Margaret's, 
Foots Cray-road, New Eltham, they were 
presented with the freehold of their present 
ground, which cost, apart from law expenses, 
the sum of 245. This handsome gift without 
a farthing cost to the Church was made over 
to trustess, and is now the property of the 
Church. This is only part of the gift of this 
generous lady, as many more tokens of her 
kindness were received during the bnilding and 
the opening of the present chapel, to which 
a memorial stone in the front testifies. Many 
other friends gave substantial help, and many 
more gave of their penury, while others gave 
themselves to the enormous work entailed. It 

is recorded that over a hundred pounds was 
spent in postage appeals and receipts. 

"On Whit Monday in June, 1904, the build- 
ing known as Eltham Baptist Church, Bal- 
caskie-road, was opened for public worship, 
and it does great credit to the architect, Mr. 
Charles Chapman, and also to the builder, 
Mr. Lowe, of Chislehurst." 


The following notes upon the history of the 
Wesleyau Church in Eltham are written for 
us by Mr. G. W. E. Dowsett : 

"The development of the Wesleyan Methodist 
Church in Eltham is very interesting. When 
the Eltham Park Estate had been partly built 
upon, and a fair proportion of the houses occu- 
pied, there were naturally a few Mefliodists 
amongst the inhabitants. Their presence set 
in motion projects for the erection of a church 
of their own denomination. 

"Eventually, a site was acquired at the junc- 
tion of Earlshall and Westmount-roads, 
measuring 250ft. by 120ft., and costing ,860. 
Upon this site a temporary iron building was 
erected at a cost of <280, and opened on Sep- 
tember 25th, 1902. 

"It was in this building that the late Dr. 
Walford Green, a greatly beloved minister of 
the Wesleyan denomination, and then chair- 
man of the Third London District, preached 
his last sermon on Sunday evening, February 
1st, 1903, and administered the sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper. 

"The pulpit in this temporary church was 
supplied during the first year by local 
preachers from neighbouring Circuits, and in 
the second year by a resident lay agent, Mr. 
Norman Martyn. 

" It was not long, however, before it be- 
came evident that this structure was far too 
small to accommodate the ever increasing popu- 
lation, and a movement was made in the direc- 
tion of erecting a permanent building. Plans 
were passed, and as the whole scheme from its 
beginning had been so closely associated with 
Dr. Walford Green, it was decided to desig- 
nate the church about to be erected 'The 
Walford Green Memorial Church." 



"The stone laying ceremony in connection 
with the church was held on July llth, 1905, 
and the building, which seats 650, and cost 
.5,500, was opened for public worship on 
Wednesday, April 25th, 1906, and attached to 
the Blackheath Circuit in September of the 
same year. 

"When the permanent church was about 
to be erected it was deemed advisable to 
appoint a resident minister, and the Rev. John 
J. Johnston rendered admirable service for 
two years covering the difficult period of 
transition from the iron building to the 
present structure. 

"At the close of his second year, according 
to Methodist custom, he being ordained, was 
entitled to a married man's privileges, but as 
this young Church was not called upon, and, 
indeed, not in a. position to provide these, Mr. 
Johnston removed to another Circuit, and the 
Rev. W. J. Hartley was appointed. At the 
end of one year, he also was ordained, and the 
position with regard to him was precisely the 
same as that which applied to Mr. Johnston, 
and he also removed. He was followed by th 
present minister, the Rev. B. Harold Chappel, 
who is just entering upon the second year of 
his ministry." 

A "CASTLE" TOKEN, 1649. 



The earliest record of a Tillage schoolmaster 
at Eltham is in the Parish Registers, in the 
year 1592. 

"Paid to Goodman Bourne and William the 
schoolmaster for keeping the clock that quarter 
that he rang the bell from St. Christmas to the 
Lady Day, 2e." 

In the year 1605 there ie another entry -which 
refers to schoolmasters, .in the plural, and also 
alludes to a school house. It runs thus : 

" Paid to good/man Wyborne for dharges at 
the oominge of the Kinges maiestie into the 
towne and -for ringinge one the Ibyrthe daie of 
the younge prinse and for charges of Schol- 
masters the xviij of June 1605 latteses for the 
kole wyndowes, vjs." 

There does not seem to 'be any indication of 
the situation of the school in these remote 
times, but the general belief is that the ecen 
of William, the schoolmaster's, pedagogic 
labours was in the room over the church porch. 
In later years the school, in all probability, 
was near the Vicar's barn, which stood a little 
way to the west of the church. 


The oldest of our existing educational institu- 
tions is the National School, which dates back 
close upon a century, for it was established in 
connection with the National Society, by the 
Rev. J. K. Shaw Brooke, in the year 1814. 

From a report of the Charity Commissioners, 
dated 1819, we learn that twenty pounds >wa* 
paid to the master for teaching 20 boye on Mrs. 
Legatt's foundation. The first register of the 
school is still preserved, and among the first 

batch of boys admitted were many bearing 
names that are still familiar in Eltham, e.g. : 

James Shearing, aged 7. 
John Soriven, aged 11. 
Thomas Foster, aged 6. 
Edward Hand, aged 10. 
William Stevens, aged 6. 
Charles Russell, aged 9. 
James Kingston, aged 7. 
1. Wakeman, aged 6. 
T. Wakeman, aged 8. 

W. Castleton, G. Castleton, I. Misfcin, S. 
Norton, I. Norton, H. Francis, and many other 
well-known names, are on the interesting list. 

"The National School referred to in the report 
of 1819, which was for boys and girls, and an 
infants' school, established in 1840, appears to 
have been carried on on a site, the use of which 
was granted by her Majesty's Commissi